BY I.F. WONG Follow on Twitter
Malaysia’s old failing surfaced yet again as Ong Kim Swee’s chargers were unable to find the net against minnows Macau in an international friendly tonight at the Hang Jebat Stadium.
Macau, a team Malaysia used to beat by large score lines in years gone by, held firm against waves of Malaysian attacks especially in the second half. For the Malaysians, the painful truth is that they still lack quality attackers at international level despite turning to the experience of Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Amri Yahyah upfront.
Ong started with the familiar 4-4-2 formation with major changes in personnel from the defeat against the Saudis last week. Izham Tarmizi started in goal while Matthew Davies, Nazirul Naim, Nazrin Nawi, Nazmi Faiz Mansor and Norshahrul came into the side. Azrif Nasrulhaq who played at left back previously, started at the right wing.
Despite dominating possession in the opening period, the home team’s first clear chance came in the 37th minute when Nazrin Nawi’s left foot effort hit the bar with Norshahrul failing to connect with the follow-up. It was goalless at half-time.
Malaysia stepped up the pace in the second half but failed to truly test Macau’s goalkeeper Ho Man Fai. At the hour, an Amri cross found a free Shahrom Kalam but the Selangor defender headed wide and missed the chance for his first international goal.
Hafiz Kamal, a second half substitute, had a free-kick comfortably parried by Ho in the 79th minute and in the follow-up play Wan Zack Haikal missed from close range.
Hafiz, ever effective from dead balls, found the head of Amri minutes later but Ho again denied Malaysia with a fine save.
Right at the death, Hafiz hit the bar from another free-kick but that was all Ong’s men could manage on the night.
“The players tried hard but it was a very disappointing result. We had more of the ball compared to against the Saudis and had chances but we were unable to convert,” Ong commented after the game.
Ong’s Macau counterpart Tam Lao San was naturally rather more pleased with the outcome.
“I am happy with the result but it is clear Malaysia are a stronger side than us. We fought hard together for this result,” Tam beamed.
Izham Tarmizi, like the Saudi keeper last week, was largely a spectator throughout the match but unlike the Saudis, Malaysia never looked as if they were going to run Macau over and have yet to score this year.
That must be a huge worry for Ong and Malaysian fans alike.
Matthew Davies (Wan Zack Haikal 46th), Fadhli Shas, Shahrom Kalam, Nazirul Naim (Yong Kuong Yong 21st), Norshahrul Idlan (Joseph Kalang Tie 78th), Nazmi Faiz Mansor (Hafiz Kamal 46th), Baddrol Bakhtiar (Brendan Gan 74th), Nazrin Nawi (Amirul Hisyam 62nd), Amri Yahyah, Azrif Nasrulhaq, Izham Tarmizi.
Ho Man Fai, Lei Chi Kin, Lao Pak Lin (Lei Ka Him 89th), Chan man, Cheang Cheng Leong, Leong Ka Hang, Ho Chi Fong (Kam Chi Hou 69th), Pereira Oliveira, Pang Chi Hang (Wong Vernon 96th), Cordeiro Miguel, Leong Tak Wai.