Faisal Halim Malaysia Thailand Semi-final AFF Cup 2022 07012023FAM

AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022: Malaysians hold firm for smash and grab win

An enthralling clash at Bukit Jalil ended 1-0 to the hosts as Faisal Halim’s 11th minute strike was enough to secure a slender first-leg advantage for Malaysia.

It was a match dominated by Thailand from start to finish, and one which might’ve looked very different if Pansa Hemviboon had taken an early chance- instead, he headed wide from Ekanit Panya’s cross from a short corner with the goal gaping.

For all Thailand’s early attacking endeavour, it was Malaysia who grabbed the initiative against the run of play. Sharul Nazeem played a long ball into the box from the halfway line and Ruventhiran Vengadesan headed it across the goal for Faisal to slide home, scoring his fourth goal of the tournament through the legs of Thai goalkeeper Kittipong Phuthawchueak. The capacity crowd at Bukit Jalil were in raptures.

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Faisal Halim Malaysia Thailand Semi-final AFF Cup 2022 07012023FAM

Thailand’s attacking impetus soon resumed, as Teerasil and Bordin Phala both had chances to score, before Theerathon’s chip over the Malaysian defence was met by Peeradon, who could only skew it wide.

The Harimau Malaya almost made it 2-0 on the break, though, as Faisal’s through ball split the Thai defence and sent Quentin Cheng through on goal, but he could only balloon his effort over the bar.

The second half began in a similar fashion, with the War Elephants monopolising possession, and they nearly turned their dominance into a goal as Teerasil did well to reach Suphanan Bureerat’s cross, but the veteran could only head against the post.

Malaysia soon had the ball in the net again, as Kittipong found landed himself in trouble having come out to punch Lee Tuck’s free-kick. The ball bounced off Dominic Tan’s back into the back of the net, only for the referee to disallow the goal for a foul in the build-up.

Lee Tuck Theerathon Bunmathan Malaysia Thailand Semi-final AFF Cup 2022 07012023FAM

Ekanit had a chance smothered by Malaysian custodian Syihan in the 63rd minute, before Pansa had a second gilt-edged chance to score three minutes later, but he failed to direct his header on target.

Thailand had shouts for a penalty waved away in the 84th minute after Bordin went down inside the box under the challenge of substitute Nur Shamie, but Malaysia held on to secure a famous semi-final win as they look to win only their second ever AFF Championship.