SURABAYA (10 Sept 2013) – Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Jafri rescued Malaysia with a late strike to force a draw against Myanmar in a AFF Under-19 Championship Group B game at the Petrokimia Gresik Stadium here tonight.
With time running out and Malaysia appearing doomed to lose their opening game, the Malaysian youngster broke though the Myanmar defence to knock in the equaliser two minutes from the end of the match. While Malaysia were celebrating, it was heartache for the hardworking Myanmar players who had battled furiously throughout.
Myanmar and Malaysia are now third behind Indonesia and Vietnam who both won their Group B matches today. Indonesia defeated Brunei while Vietnam surprised Thailand 3-2.
In tonight’s match, the first half turned out to be somewhat scrappy as both sides struggled to get their engines running. Malaysia finally had their first sniff at goal in the 33rd minute when N. Thanabalan made his way down the right and into the box. But with only the goalkeeper standing in his way, Thanabalan whipped it right across the goal.
Battling from a stream of attacks, Myanmar charged forward with skipper Maung Maung Soe in front. The striker beat his marker and then planted his low shot in the left corner to give Myanmar the lead.
Myanmar almost doubled the score five minutes later, unfortunately, Aung Thu, after being put through by Maung Soe, was facing an open goal but his delay in reacting allowed a Malaysian defender to close in and block the shot.
While Myanmar were in control for the first part of the second half, it was the Malaysians who came alive in the last 15 minutes or so. An unbelievable miss from Muhammad Jafri, who failed to score with an open goal lying in front of him in the 75th minute, was followed up with several more close misses.
But Jafri made amends for his horrendous miss with the sensational equaliser in the 88th minute. A relieved Malaysian coach Aminuddin Hussin said he was pleased with the late equaliser. “He is only 16 and did really well tonight,” said Aminuddin.
RESULTS – Group B
Vietnam 3 Thailand 2
Indonesia 5 Brunei 0
Malaysia 1 Myanmar 1