BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia hit their stride in the 2018 AFF Championship when it mattered the most, seeing off the challenges of Myanmar with a 3-0 win in their last Group A match on Saturday. The victory allowed them to advance to the semi-finals as group runners up.
Despite showing their ability to control possession in the previous match, against Vietnam, the Harimau Malaya defence failed to contend with the Golden Dragons' speedy transitions, and fell to a 2-0 defeat.
But in their must-win clash against the Asian Lions, the hosts showed marked improvements in their defending to keep the visitors' attackers out of the danger area.
Centre back certainly Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak agreed with this insight, when speaking in the post-match press conference.
"As a defender, I think our defence did a good job tonight. We cut down on mistakes and that helped us come away with the win. We had to win the match, so we focused on scoring while avoiding from conceding. All departments of the team needed to work together for this to happen.
"In attack we always started from the defence line. We moved well, and that cohesion was then carried forward by the midfielders, which allowed the forwards to create chances. Tonight we made very few errors and we were patient in possession. We waited for the openings; when Myanmar made mistakes Mohamadou Sumareh would go and exploit the gaps," remarked the 31-year old defender.
As Group A runners up, Malaysia will face Group B winners in the semis. Their first leg semi-final encounter will be played at Bukit Jalil, next Saturday, December 1. Group B final round of matches will be played later today.
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In Phnom Penh they took a tuk-tuk convoy to the stadium. Back home in Kuala Lumpur for Malaysia's must-win @affsuzukicup clash against Myanmar, Ultras Malaya took the LRT to the Bukit Jalil and made the coaches theirs. We followed them to see how it went down. Di Phnom Penh mereka berkonvoi tuk-tuk ke stadium. Di laman sendiri Kuala Lumpur bagi perlawanan penentuan Piala AFF Malaysia menentang Myanmar, Ultras Malaya bikin huru-hara dengan 'menawan' LRT ke Bukit Jalil. Kami ekori Sang Ekor, saksikan rakamannya.