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Cambodia U19 v Malaysia U19

Ill-disciplined Malaysia hang on to slim win as Luqman scores sensational goal

02:36 GMT 03/11/2019
Malaysia U18 v Indonesia U18, AFF U18 Championship, 17 Aug 2019
Malaysia were nearly undone by two red cards in their AFC U-19 Championship qualification match against hosts Cambodia.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Malaysia opened their AFC U-19 Championship qualification campaign with a 5-4 win over hosts Cambodia, in a madcap encounter that saw two Malaysian players sent off in quick succession.

Head coach Brad Maloney's charges ended the first half with a commanding 3-0 lead, goals by Shafi Azswad (30’) Fakrul Iman (40’) and Azrin Afiq (43’) putting them comfortably in front.

But an incident near the hour mark led to not just one, but two Malaysia players being sent off, which very nearly undid their hardwork.

Zikri Khalil was shown a straight red by referee Kurbanov Charymurat for bringing down an opposition as the last man, and when midfielder Mukhairi Ajmal attempted to stand up for him, he ended up with a second yellow, and a sending off himself. The ensuing free kick was taken advantage of by Met Samel to pull one back (61'), and just four minutes later Chea Sokmeng lifted the ball over goalkeeper Firdaus Imran Fadhil from a narrow angle to slash the deficit to one.

Thankfully, budding star Luqman Hakim Shamsudin was there with a heroic goal that served to calm his teammates' nerves. In the 67th minute, the youngster who will play in Belgium struck a looping long-range shot from inside the centre circle, which dipped into the top corner over goalkeeper Tha Chan Rithy, who frankly should have done better to keep the hopeful attempt out.

Substitute Muslihuddin Atiq restored Malaysia's three-goal lead in the 74th minute with his goal, but the Young Tigers' failure to shut up shop nearly punished them again. Goals by Leap Pheng (77’) and Soeuth Nava (88’) again brought the hosts to within one goal of parity, but thakfully Maloney's boys were able to avoid conceding again until the final whistle, to ensure that the win was theirs.

Speaking in the post-match press conference, the Australian admitted that his team made things harder for themselves in the encounter.

"We obviously made it quite difficult for ourselves, but credit to Cambodia who never gave up and almost snatched a point or even more in the end. They're a good team and we had expected a very tough match from the outset. They combined well, have good players who have played for the senior team, and they have a great support behind them by the fans. 

"[The red cards] were a bit of a double sucker punch because the red card was followed by a second yellow card, and then Cambodia scored from the free kick. We lost two players and conceded in one hit, so it was tough for the team to organise and maintain the lead. The momentum was with Cambodia, it gave them the boost to try to chase the game.

"I can't exactly blame the goalkeeper. We conceded four goals playing with nine men, so while we're not totally happy about it, it's one of those things that can happen in football," explained the trainer who is also Malaysia U-23's assistant head coach. 

Malaysia will continue their Group G campaign against Brunei on November 6.

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@officialjohor adalah juara Piala Malaysia 2019! #PialaMalaysia2019 #KEDJDT #Kedah #JDT

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