BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
A somewhat dangerous and almost error-free Malaysia fell to a slim 1-0 friendly match defeat against Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday, with one player rolling back the years, while another quite was unable to match his high-flying start.
Malaysia vs Kyrgyz Republic match highlights
Khairul Fahmi Che Mat - 6/10
The experienced goalkeeper returned to the starting line-up, and turned in a reliable performance in between the sticks. He did not have to do awfully much, and it was a shame that he was not able to keep the one dangerous chance had by Kyrgyz Republic out.
Syahmi Safari - 6/10
The young utility player was utilised as a right back by head coach Tan Cheng Hoe in the encounter due to first pick Matthew Davies' injury, and he showed a marked improvement. He was not outstanding in his first three appearances for the senior Malaysia team, mostly in attack, but on Tuesday he showcased more confidence in defence. He was somewhat able to gel with and support right winger Mohamadou Sumareh, but could not do more when Sumareh's attacking intent petered out in the later stages of the match.
Irfan Zakaria - 7/10
The centre back did not do much wrong in the match, but the only time he slipped up; when he accidentally deflected a Kyrgyz Republic pass into the path of Sagynbaev Bekzhan, it resulted in the hosts conceding the only goal of the encounter. He was moved into the midfield when Kenny Pallraj Davaragi was taken off, and did not show that he was rattled by the earlier (minor) error, to help the hosts control the middle of the park and press on for the equaliser.
Shahrul Saad - 6/10
The Perak centre back returned to action for Malaysia, probably to the consternation of club head coach Mehmet Durakovic, but avoided any injuries and gave a good account of himself.
Syazwan Andik Ishak - 6/10
The left back bagged a goal and an assist in his previous two matches for Malaysia, but handed a rare Malaysia start by Tan on Tuesday, he was not quite able to shine. Playing against a more formidable opponent than those they have faced recently, Syazwan could not push up to help in attack, and had to concentrate more on his defensive duties, which he performed adequately.
Kenny Pallraj Davaragi - 6/10
The midfielder started the game well enough to help Malaysia control the middle of the park, but could not do more alongside partner Syamer Kutty Abba to add lethality to Malaysia's attacks. The Perak man was taken off with 20 minutes remaining, perhaps to keep him out of harm's way, with his club looking set to reach the Malaysia Cup final later this month.
Syamer Kutty Abba - 6/10
The midfielder started the game well enough to help Malaysia control the middle of the park, but could not do more alongside partner Kenny to add lethality to Malaysia's attacks. He needs to show that he can transition into the senior team from their U-23 counterpart soon, as he had previously starred in the middle of the park for the Young Tigers.
Mohamadou Sumareh - 6/10
After a sterling debut for Malaysia against Sri Lanka last Friday, the right winger failed to produce the same output against the opponents. The Kyrgyz Republic staff had obviously done their homework and learnt that he is a threat, and imparted that knowledge to the defenders. They never gave him any room to breathe, to the extent that he was nigh invisible in the second half.
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha - 7/10 (Best player)
In the first half the veteran forward rolled back the years, showing glimpses of his trademark dribbles and cutbacks. He almost found the back of the net from such a move, but was denied by the opposition goalkeeper's reflex save. Another attempt by him clattered into the goalpost instead.
Norhshahrul Idlan Talaha. Photo from Getty Images
Syazwan Zainon - 6/10
The left winger was again unable to contribute to his team, finding it hard to penetrate the opponents' defence and provide killer passes. He was substituted near the hour mark by Akhyar Rashid.
Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak - 6/10
The striker showed improvement from his underwhelming performance against Sri Lanka last Friday, and with him and Norshahrul looking particularly dangerous at the same time towards the end of the first half, the hosts looked like they could even win the match. But in the second half he failed to match his earlier tempo, fell off the radar, and was substituted off by Tan.
Akhyar Rashid - 6/10
The teenager again came on as a second half substitution, perhaps due to the fact that he is supposed to join the Malaysia U-19 squad and fly off for the AFC U-19 Championship on the following day. He played better than he did against Sri Lanka, threatening the opposition defence with his dribbles, but could not combine well with the other attackers. More regrettably, he missed a golden chance to equalise with minutes left in the game, when his tap-in ended on the wrong side of the post. It is obvious that he needs to improve by learning when to attack, and when to provide the ball to a better-positioned teammate, in order to progress at the senior level.
Adam Nor Azlin - 6/10
The centre back replaced Kenny midway through the second half, and ensured that the hosts did not concede more goals.
Nik Akif Syahiran Nik Mat - NA
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