KUALA LUMPUR (28 Nov 2012) – The performance was anything but inspiring. And at the end of the evening, Malaysia just did enough to beat Laos 4-1 in the second game of the second match day of the AFF Suzuki Cup here at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Under tremendous pressure following their disappointing 3-0 loss to Singapore a few days earlier, the Malaysians had to put up a better performance worthy of the accolade of being the defending champions.
And tonight, they began well enough with captain Safiq Rahim curling in a 15th minute free kick that went well over the Laotian wall and past the reach of Laos keeper Sengphachan Bounthisanh.
The game then turned out to be more of a midfield struggle as Laos standout Khampheng Sayavutthi and also Khonesavanh Sihavong exerted their presence at the centre of the park in an effort to cut off supply to the Malaysian frontine.
In the 26th minute, Keoviengpheth Lithideth broke through from the left but his shot failed to test Malaysian custodian Farizal Marlias, who has been chosen to take to the field ahead of regular Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
Three minutes later, it was Malaysia’s turn to get into the action when Norshahrul Idlan Talaha ran in from the right but his shot narrowly missed the intended target while not too long afterwards, Safee Sali’s attempt went wide with only Sengphachan to beat.
In the 39th minute, Malaysia found themselves back to square one when off a chip from Khampheng in the middle, Khonesavanh fired in a shot from the right which ricocheted off Malaysian defender Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak to float over Farizal and into goal.
With the score tied 1-1 at the break, Malaysia brought in Wan Zack Haikal in the second half and the effect was immediate as a string of opportunities came from the right. Playing the overlapping runs with Khyril Muhymeen Zambri, Wan Zack floated in a cross in the 66th minute that was put away by Safee to give Malaysia the lead for the second time tonight.
In the 75th minute, a cross from S. Kunanlan was then headed into goal by Wan Zack to put Malaysia comfortably 3-1 in front before the home team then wrapped things up with the fourth goal four minutes later – this time off Khyril Muhymeen’s hardwork.