BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia recorded their first win in over a year, when they hammered seven goals past the 188th-ranked Bhutan in their friendly match on Sunday night. The match held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium saw forward Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak scoring four of the goals (19 (P)’, 36’, 39’, 55'), with the rest scored by Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor (10’), Irfan Zakaria (28’) and Syafiq Ahmad (74').
Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe made only one change to the starting line-up that faced Lebanon earlier this week in their last Asian Cup qualification group match. The injured right back Matthew Davies was replaced by Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, who swapped touches with left back Ariff Farhan Isa.
Malaysia piled on the pressure from the starting whistle, and did not have to wait long to open the scoring. In the 11th minute, Zaquan's short cross from the left found Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor at the far post, and the Felda United man didn't miss with his header from almost-point blank range.
Eight minutes later Wan Zack was fouled by Chimi Dorji in the Bhutan box, and the winger decided to return the favour by letting Zaquan take the spotkick. The captain coolly put it away to double the hosts' lead.
In the 28th minute, midfielder Irfan Zakaria nodded in a corner from the right to make it 3-0.
In the 37th minute, Zaquan doubled his tally. After sending the defenders the wrong way inside the Bhutan box, he squeezed in a low shot that goalkeeper Kinzang Gyeltshen managed to get his hands behind, but the custodian only ended up pushing the ball into the back of the net.
The Kuala Lumpur player netted his hattrick just three minutes later, after a defensive mix-up left him with the easiest task of pushing the ball into the goal.
In injury time, a mix-up between defender Shahrul Saad and goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat almost led to Tibet scoring into an empty goalmouth, but another defender was there to contain the threat.
At halftime, it was 5-0 to the Harimau Malaya.
Cheng Hoe brought on Syafiq Ahmad for teenage star Akhyar Rashid when the second half began, while Bhutan boss Trevor Morgan changed over half of the players who started in the first half.
Zaquan scored the sixth goal in the 55th minute, following an assist from Nazirul, and Tan made further changes afterwards, taking off Zaquan, Mahalli and Nazirul.
Syafiq made good accounts of himself, adding Malaysia's seventh in the 74th minute through a header. Kinzang seemingly managed to keep the ball just outside of his goalmouth, but the linesman raised his flag to signal to the referee that the ball has indeed crossed the goalline. It was Syafiq's second international goal this week, after scoring in Malaysia's 2-1 defeat to Lebanon.
The match ended in a 7-0 win to the hosts, their first win since November 2016, while for Bhutan it was their second 7-0 hammering this week, after losing to Maldives by the same scoreline on Wednesday.
Malaysia: Fahmi (GK), Shahrul, Irfan, Ariff (Syahmi 78'), Nazirul (Syazwan 61'), Nazmi, Akram, Mahalli (Kogileswaran 61'), Wan Zack (Shahrel 74'), Zaquan (C) (Hakim 61'), Akhyar (Syafiq 45').
Bhutan: Kinzang (GK) (Ngawang 45'), Yeshi (Chencho 45'), Iigme (C), Nima, Biren (Jigme 45'), Sonam, Orgyen (Dawa 45'), Diwash (Chumma 45'), Chimi, Kencho, Dorji (Lhendup 45').