NAYPYITAW (25 Aug 2013) – Malaysia staged a second-half fight back to keep their hopes of a place in the semi-finals of the AFF AYA Bank Under-16 Championship alive when they beat Laos 4-1 in a Group B match this evening at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium.
The score at the end of the first half was 1-0 to Laos.
“Credit to the boys, they played hard when they were down,” said Malaysian coach S. Balachandran. “But we should not have made that mistake to begin with and that is something which they must avoid in the next match (against Indonesia on 29 August).”
Needing the three points, Laos played to their strength and defended in numbers where they relied on counter-attacks to move forward. But with Malaysia seemingly confident that they will be able to rake up the points, a wasted chance early in the 13th minute when Muhammad Najmuddin Samat blasted the ball wide, gave the impetus to Laos.
Just three minutes later, Sinthanong Phanvongsa could have given Laos the lead but he took a tad too long to put the ball into an open goal with only recovering defender Ali Imran Alimi to beat.
Malaysian then missed a flurry of chances as their strikers took things a little easy and while they may have hit the crossbar in the 22nd minute, Laos made sure that they go into the dressing room in a confident mood when Sinthanong made good on a long clearance from the back to race in and poke the ball ahead of goalkeeper Mohd Haziq Nazli.
Malaysia were more determined going into the second half and just three minutes in, a cross from Abang Nur’firman Abang Norazman was headed into goal by Ahmad Firdaus Ismail.
Growing in confidence, the Malaysians then pressed the fast-tiring Laotians as striker Muhammad Najmuddin nailed a hat-trick (57th, 74th and 90th minute) for the hard fought win.
“We made some small mistakes and that cost us dearly,” said Laos coach Kiyoshi Sekiguchi. “We still have two matches to play, so we have to do better.”
Group B Current Standings