PHNOM PENH (8 Nov 2018) – Striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, part of the victorious Malaysian team in 2010, delivered the winner against Cambodia in the opening match of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 here this evening. Norshahrul’s header in the first half proved to be just enough to secure a crucial win and also earn him the Man-of-the-Match award.
For Cambodia, it was somewhat of a heartbreak for the home fans who were hoping for full points ahead of their national day tomorrow. The Cambodians are still in the running but they have a tough away tie against Myanmar next.
“The Cambodian team we faced today was better than in the last game. They had more time to prepare,” said Tan Cheng Hoe, who was also in the 2010 Suzuki Cup winning team, but then as the assistant to Datuk K. Rajagopal. “But I’m happy to have collected three points today.”
The Malaysians had some glimpses including a close attempt in the 22nd minute but Norshahrul struck it wide. But just eight minutes later, the 32-year-old Norshahrul, who also scored the only goal in Malaysia’s opening match in the 2010 campaign, got his header in.
Cambodia threw everything they had into the game as they hunted for the equaliser, but a solid Malaysian defence put the brakes on them. Goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, the first choice in the 2010 team, was steady between the posts and stopped any shots that went his way.
Cambodia coach Felix Dalmas had this to say: “It was a great match against great opponents tonight. They had a few chances and scored, we were just not fortunate not to have scored. I’ll have to look at the video and analyse our game.”
While Malaysia play at home against Laos on Monday, Cambodia will travel to Myanmar for their next Group A game.