BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Questionable tactics and player picks, as well as below par performance, contributed to Malaysia's first defeat in their 2018 AFF Championship campaign, but it's still worth looking at who performed and who flopped in their 2-0 group match defeat to Vietnam.
Vietnam vs Malaysia match highlights
Khairul Fahmi Che Mat - 5/10
He was not tested too frequently as the hosts preferred to sit deep and hit on counter attacks, but the experienced custodian failed to perform the two times it mattered.
Syahmi Safari - 5/10
The right back was a capable support in attack, but was not as effective in defence. It was his poor shadowing of Nguyễn Văn Toàn which led to the first goal of the match.
Aidil Zafuan - 5/10
The experienced centre back was simply overwhelmed by the speed with which Vietnam could transition into attack.
Shahrul Saad - 5/10
The centre back was simply overwhelmed by the speed with which Vietnam could transition into attack. He was lucky to only come away with a yellow card for what looked like an elbow against a Vietnam player in the second half.
Syazwan Andik Ishak - 5/10
The left back was nervous throughout the match, even failing to trap passes properly on multiple occassions.
Akram Mahinan - 5/10
While the midfielder had been praised for his no-frills performance in Malaysia's last two matches, on Thursday his biggest weakness was laid bare. He couldn't help Malaysia be more threatening as he is not a creative midfielder, despite the Tigers having a larger share of the possession.
Syamer Kutty Abba - 5/10
The midfielder barely registered a blip throughout the encounter, and was taken off midway through the second half. Received a booking early in the first half for a professional foul, and was taken off in the 72nd minute.
Mohamadou Sumareh - 6/10 (Best player)
Coming back from an injury, the right winger was one of the better Malaysia players of the night. He showed confidence to try and penetrate the tight Vietnam defence from the right, but surprisingly he was the first player to be substituted off by Tan Cheng Hoe, in order to make way for Safawi Rasid.
Sumareh. Photo from Malaysian FA
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha - 6/10
The veteran forward couldn't maintain his man of the match performance from the past two matches to get his third new smartphone in the space of one week, his job made very hard by the hosts midfield and defence, who crowd around him everytime he had the ball.
Akhyar Rashid - 6/10
The teenager started in his first ever AFF Championship match, a decision that is rather questionable given that he is normally better employed in the second half, as a fresh pair of legs while the opposing defenders are fatigued. But the left winger was not able to provide the impact that might have been wanted by everyone in the first half, with him having to stay lower on the pitch in the first half in order to help the defence, and the defenders making sure he could not get far with the ball.
Shahrel Fikri Fauzi - 5/10
Starting in his first AFF Championship match, the top striker had a torrid night. He couldn't get the ball past the defenders into their final third, and on top of this he may have been injured after getting on the end on some physical challenges. He was taken off in the 62nd minute for Hazwan Bakri.
Safawi Rasid - 6/10
Although his introduction made Malaysia a little more dangerous, in the end the closest the winger came to scoring was a 62nd-minute freekick that was palmed away by goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm.
Hazwan Bakri, Syafiq Ahmad - N/A
Late substitutions whose contributions were minimal.
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