Just as it was scripted, Malaysia had very little trouble disposing Timor Leste in the first leg of the doble header played at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Friday evening. It could even be said that the 7-1 scoreline was still flattering for the away side, given the dominance that the Harimau Malaya had on the match.
In truth, the outcome of the match showed the true disparity between the two teams and perhaps that Malaysia should really be higher than where they ended up in the FIFA rankings which meant that they have to be part of this preliminary first round of the qualifiers.
Despite a short period of resistance from the minnows at the start of the second half which saw them getting a consolation goal through Joao da Silva in the 51st minute via a quick counter attacking move, it was a one-sided affair from start to finish with the Malaysian side seemingly able to score at will.
Tan Cheng Hoe took no risk with his team selection and opted to give the highest of respect to the opponent by naming his strongest XI, with the return of Mohamadou Sumareh to the starting line-up after he served the first of his supposed four match ban in the Nepal friendly last Sunday.
In his first ever competitive start for Malaysia, La'Vere Corbin-Ong nodded in his first ever international goal in the 12th minute to get the ball rolling. A injury to Syafiq Ahmad meant an early substitution for Malaysia with Shahrel Fikri taking his place on the field and providing an instant impact.
Having just missed a sitter in the 22nd minute, Shahrel quickly made amends as he tapped home a loose ball inside the penalty box following Fernandes Aderito's fumble in the 23rd minute to make it 2-0 for Malaysia. All that after Fernandes had guessed correctly in the 17th minute to deny Safawi Rasid from the spot.
Malaysia took their foot off the pedal after that but finished the half on a high after two quick goals as Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (43') and Safawi (45') added their name to the scoresheet for the home side to take a big lead at half time.
Barring the aforementioned burst at the start of the second half, it was more of the same for Malaysia after the break. Sumareh did well to find Safawi in the 59th minute after a mazy dribble and the Johor Darul Ta'zim forward made no mistake with his shot to grab his second on the night and restored Malaysia's lead back to four goals.
Another substitute in Faiz Nasir added the icing on the cake in the 78th minute with the sixth goal for the home side and arguably the best on the night. Matthew Davies accurately picked out the pint-sized midfielder and the Selangor stalwart absolutely hammered the volley into the top corner.
Akhyar Rashid made it a complete sweep of all three substitutes scoring in the match when he picked up Nor Azam Azih's pass in the 89th minute to have a clear run at goal and he wasn't to be denied by Fernandes as Akhyar calmly slots home Malaysia's seventh on the night.
It will be four days before the two teams play each other again in the return 'home' leg for Timor Leste but with the massive lead that Malaysia hold after the conclusion of the first leg, Tuesday's game looks nothing more than just a formality and perhaps a chance for Cheng Hoe to give playing opportunities to his second string side.
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