Malaysia 0 Thailand 0: First leg stalemate with no away advantage for The War Elephants

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Malaysia were on the front foot for most of the match but were unable to find the precious goal to give them the lead going into the second leg.

Wasteful chances would be the name of the game in this first leg encounter of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final as Malaysia create plenty of chances but did not manage to convert any of those. The main positive to be taken from this match is that the 0-0 score meant that Thailand do not have an away goal to rely on at Rajamangala Stadium.

Both Tan Cheng Hoe and Milovan Rajevac trusted their respective first eleven that saw them win their last group matches and gained qualification to this stage of the competition as neither made any changes to their line-up.

Buoyed by the huge home crowd, Malaysia put on the early pressure with the first effort at goal coming after just five minutes of play but Safawi Rasid's shot sailed over the bar in a not very handsome fashion.

Farizal Marlias was forced to come off his line just two minutes later and he arrived to the ball first before Sanrawat Dechmitr but suffered a knock to his head as a result, which needed lengthy treatment from the medical team.

But it was at the other end of the pitch that saw most of the action with Malaysia in the ascendency but were constantly foiled by resolute defending from the Thais coupled with lack of efficiency in front of goal from the home side.

Safawi had a shot pushed away by Chatchai Bootprom in the 20th minute and Mika Chunonsee had to be on alert to be first to the ball to deny Norshahrul Idlan Talaha from an easy header in the 23rd minute.

The best chance for Malaysia in the first half came just three minutes after that when Zaquan won the ball high up the pitch and managed to pick out Mohamadou Sumareh inside the penalty box but to the dismay of the capacity crowd, drove his shot just wide of the far post with Chatchai stranded.

Thailand will also find a good chance to take the lead heading into half time when Farizal was forced to come off his line against in the 35th minute of the match. He won the foot race with Nurul Sriyankem but his clearance went straight to Supachai Jaided. Luckily for Malaysia, the Thai youngster scuffed his shot wide despite a gaping goal mouth.

The second half began at a very weird rhythm both on and off the pitch. As Malaysia's attack continually hit the Thailand wall, the intensity on the pitch dropped drastically. That translated to the crowd's also going down a few notches, unlike how it was at the start of the match.

Thailand easily contained Malaysia and could have easily taken the lead in the 59th minute from a counter attacking move that saw Adisak Kraisorn receiving the ball at the edge of Malaysia's penalty box but could not keep his shot down.

Injury to Sumareh meant that Hazwan Bakri was thrown into the fray in the 64th minute and he immdiately was involved in Malaysia's best move in the second half. His cross from the right hand side found Norhsharul, who interchanged passes with Zaquan Adha before unleashing a venomous shot that was only inches above the crossbar.

The injury toll would increased for Cheng Hoe when Syazwan Andik also pulled up injured and had to be replaced by Nazirul Naim. The Malaysia's coach's last throw of the dice was to bring on Shahrel Fikri for Zaquan but neither side could test the respective keeper for the rest of the match.

Thailand looked content to take the 0-0 back for the second leg and in the end, had Malaysia found their shooting boots on the night, could well have taken a lead to Bangok. Cheng Hoe would be relatively pleased in the manner his chargers controlled large parts of the match to give them a chance in the return fixture just four days later.

 

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