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Malaysia 1 Syria 2: Late lapse in concentration scuppers Malaysia's hope for a draw

15:58 BST 22/08/2017
Johor Darul Ta'zim's Darren Lok 2017
Vingada have more work on his hands as his Malaysia side lost Syria after lapses in concentration late in the game

Malaysia produced a solid defensive display for most parts of the match but lapse in concentration late on allowed Syria to score twice. The 2-1 reverse to Syria isn't the worst result in the world as the Syrian side are 86 places higher in the FIFA rankings and who are still very much in with a chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Nelo Vingada gave Kiko Insa his international debut as he started alongside Amirulhadi Zainal and Safiq Rahim in midfield. The experienced duo of Aidil Zafuan and Shahrom Kalam manned the defence while Hazwan Bakri continued up front. As for Syria, Ayman Alkhkeem was left with little choice with his selection as he currently only has 13 players available - captain Firas Al Khatib started behind striker Rafat Muhtadi.

It was the visitors who started the better, dominating possession and limiting Malaysia to defending, for most of the opening half. Shahrom was called into action early on as he produced a good tackle to deny Rafat from getting off his shot in the 11th minute. Nine minutes later, Mahmoud Mawas was left unmarked inside the penalty box but his just couldn't keep his shot on target.

Debutant Insa who doesn't shy away from a tackle, was shown a yellow card in the 29th minute after a heavy challenge near the centre circle. But to his credit, did well to keep his play in check for the rest of the first half.

Malaysia's best chance in the first half was through a Baddrol Bakhtiar attempt from a free kick but the shot lacked necessary power to beat Ibrahim Alma in Syria's goal. After their initial hold on the game, Syria allowed Malaysia to creep back into the game as both teams went into half time still level.

The second half began in almost similar fashion as the first with Syria going on the offensive. Khairulazhan did very well to come off his line to stop Mahmoud before Shahrom again came out with another superb block to deny Rafat on the hour mark.

Vingada would ring the changes quick after with Darren Lok, Syamim Yahya, Shahrel Fikri and Fitri Omar all coming on for Hazwan, Insa, Syazwan Zainon and Nazirul Naim respectively. The substitutions seemed to spark Malaysia into life and Syamim's long range effort in the 70th minute was well-struck but sailed just over the crossbar.

With only Zaher Ghunaimi to bring on, the Syrian players looked tired and that gave Malaysia the chance to go forward a little more with an increase in ball possession. Yet it was the away side who went and take the lead in the 81st minute. 

Almarmour Mohammad produced an outstanding long range screamer that caught Khairulazhan off guard to give the visitors the lead. Just three minutes later, they increased the lead through Rafat who dispossessed Aidil before finishing off his dribble with a shot from an acute angle to give Syria a 2-0 lead.

Malaysia did managed to reduce deficit late on in added time when Darren Lok converted from the penalty spot after Wan Zack Haikal had been brought down inside the box. But that proved to be the last action of the night as Malaysia kicked off a series of three international friendlies with a home defeat.