Malaysia slogged to a narrow win over Laos

Safawi Rasid, Malaysia U23 v Philippines U23, AFC U23 Championship, 22 Mar 2019
Sports Regime
Expected to be a goal fest, it turned out Laos gave Malaysia a harder ride as the Young Tigers needed a late goal from Safawi to seal a win.

Malaysia were pushed hard in the match and the need for goals was not achieved, and despite the 1-0 win over Laos, the more difficult task comes on Tuesday when Malaysia will need to beat China to have any chance of reaching the AFC U23 Championship finals in Bangkok next year.

Ong Kim Swee sprang a surprise with his team selection, dropping Safawi Rasid and Nik Akif Syahiran to the bench. With Danial Amier missing through injury, the head coach of Malaysia opted to field K. Thivandaran and Danial Haqim in midfield. Evan Wensley also got a rare start in place of Shahrul Nizam in the defence.

The changes seemed to have affected the home side more as Laos showed that they were far from the strugglers of the group that they showed in their opening day defeat to China. After Akhyar Rashid missed a glorious opportunity to put Malaysia ahead in the 12th minute, it was Laos who had more chances to open the scoring.

Haziq Nadzli had to react fast to catch Vanna Bounlovongsa's furious long range piledriver in the 16th minute, then Laos were unlucky not to take the lead in the 35th minute when Vannasone Douangmaity produced a great effort but saw his shot bounced off the post.

Things did not improve the better after the half time break as Laos continued to pound on the Malaysian door. Twice Haziq had to face difficult long range shots, one from Kaharn Phetysivilay in the 48th minute then another from Bounphachan Bounkong in thr 65th minute.

In a bid to rescue the match from ending in draw, Kim Swee threw on Safawi and Jafri Firdaus Chew for Faisal Halim and Nik Azli Alias respectively midway through the second half. Despite their introduction, it took Malaysia a long time to get going but the coveted goal finally came in the 81st minute when Safawi's free kick was misjudged by Xaysavath and floated straight into goal to give Malaysia the lead.

Late on, Malaysia still tried to push on to find more goals but in the end, Safawi's effort proved to be the difference between the two sides and Malaysia came away with the second win of the tournament.


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