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Malaysia U23

Fight marred Young Tigers win over UAE

17:50 GMT+3 10/08/2018
Safawi Rasid, Malaysia U23
Malaysia U23 gained a confidence boosting win over UAE U23 in the final friendly before the start of the Asian Games football competition next week.

It was a match that was supposed to be an international friendly but the increasing animosity in the game turned ugly at the end as fight broke out between Malaysia U23 and United Arab Emirates U23 with the score still at 2-0 without the final whistle blown.

The bench and officials from both sides also got involved as the fight escalated. It remained to be seen what kind of action will be taken on both teams both teams failed to control their respective players.

The match official had to end the game immediately as things got out of hand and security had to be called in to calm the situation down.

Despite all that, Ong Kim Swee can have plenty to smile before his team heads off to the 2018 Asian Games after an excellent win in the final preparation match that saw them defeat United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2-0 in an international friendly match played at Shah Alam Stadium on Friday night.

Following the win over Saudi Arabia back in the AFC U23 Championship in January, this is Malaysia U23's consecutive win over an Arab country that will surely pump in much confidence into the team ahead of a tough Asian Games schedule.

It was a controlled performance from start to finish as Ong's side looked well and truly ready to face South Korea, Kyrgyzstan and Bahrain in the group stage that will start next week on August 15. 

The match was not without its scary moments for the home side as Ifwat Akmal looked erratic in the early stages of the game but did manage to grow in confidence as the game went on. 

Safawi Rasid put Malaysia into the lead in the 27th minute, taking on Baddrol Bakhtiar's cute pass to slam the ball past a hapless Abdulrahman Ameri in UAE's goal.

UAE offered very little in attack as the reshaped Malaysian midfield of Baddrol and Nik Akif Syahiran were able to combine well with the back three of Dominic Tan, Irfan Zakaria and Adam Nor Azlin to snuff out the openings that the away side was searching for.

Dominic in particular looked like he has matured really well after his short stint in Portugal, marshaling the defence and becoming the leader at the back. The Johor Darul Ta'zim player is also showed plenty of improvement in terms of his concentration levels.

But the biggest positive on the night was undoubtedly Akhyar Rashid. The Kedah forward struck in the 64th minute, cutting in from the left to beat a couple of players before directing the ball to the bottom corner to seal a wonderful win for Malaysia.

Consistently dangerous on the ball, Akhyar was the livewire in the Malaysian side, combining really well with Syazwan Andik behind him. The UAE side feared him and that was evident with the numerous time crunching tackles were laid on him.

If there's one area of worry for Ong, that would be the midfield or rather the lack of options there. Beyond Baddrol and Nik Akif, the team is shorn of option in the centre of the field. Syahmi Safari is not a central midfielder and the only other option is to bring Irfan further forward by bringing another centre back.

Not much is expected of Malaysia when they face South Korea but against Kyrgyzstan and Bahrain, on the evidence of the recent friendlies against China and UAE, Ong and his team stand a more than decent change of at least making it out of the Asian Games group stage.