BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia have advanced to the semi-finals of the 2018 AFF Championship, following a comprehensive 3-0 win at home over Myanmar in their last Group A match on Saturday.
Their goals were scored by Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (26') and Zaquan Adha (p. 45+3', 88'), two of the most senior members in the squad.
On top of this, all of Malaysia's seven goals in the tournament so far have been scored by Norshahrul (four) and Zaquan (three), while the younger strikers such as Safawi Rasid and Mohamadou Sumareh have not found the back of the net yet, despite having been given regular playing time.
When this fact was pointed out to him by Goal after the encounter at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Zaquan remarked that the goal dearth experienced by his junior teammates is not something to be concerned about.
"They are still young and I can see that they've been working really hard. The fact that Mat Yo (Norshahrul) and I have been the only forwards scoring goals doesn't mean that we are better than them; without their hardwork we couldn't have found the back of the net.
"They need to work harder, their time will come and they will break the duck eventually. I salute them, and I believe they will find the back of the net," remarked the skipper.
His younger teammates may feel a little aggrieved that Zaquan even scored when he was not attempting to. His second goal of the night happened when a rushed clearance by Myanmar defender Soe Moe Kyaw bounced off his face, over goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet and into the back of the net instead.
Commenting on the fluke goal, the Kuala Lumpur star chose to attribute it to divine providence.
"The ball went in because it was god's will. Praise Allah, he makes things happen at the right time, in the right place," he declared.
"If he wills it, the ball would go in regardless of it's off the head, the knee or any other body parts. But of course there was effort involved on my part, and I believe that hardwork will always be rewarded in the end."
As Group A runners up, Malaysia will face Group B winners in the semis. Their first leg semi-final encounter will be played at Bukit Jalil, next Saturday, December 1. Group B final round of matches will be played later today.
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In Phnom Penh they took a tuk-tuk convoy to the stadium. Back home in Kuala Lumpur for Malaysia's must-win @affsuzukicup clash against Myanmar, Ultras Malaya took the LRT to the Bukit Jalil and made the coaches theirs. We followed them to see how it went down. Di Phnom Penh mereka berkonvoi tuk-tuk ke stadium. Di laman sendiri Kuala Lumpur bagi perlawanan penentuan Piala AFF Malaysia menentang Myanmar, Ultras Malaya bikin huru-hara dengan 'menawan' LRT ke Bukit Jalil. Kami ekori Sang Ekor, saksikan rakamannya.