| JAKARTA (9 July 2008) – A late penalty from Jared Christopher Lum gave Australia a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bahrain in the opening match of the AFF Under-16 Youth Championship this evening at the Stadion Lebak Bulus.
The score at the break was 1-1 with Bahrain surging ahead first with the first goal of the tournament off Sayed Dhiya Saeed in the 20th minute before Australia fought back with the equalizer from Kamal Said Ibrahim in the 34th minute.
“There were times where I felt that we were lucky while there were others when we weren’t but that is football,” said Australian head coach Martyn Crook after the match.
“But the first game is always important although I felt that we needed some time to settle down. We have to improve from here and we will be working hard in these few days to continue developing this team.”
It was Bahrain who took to the game early with Abdulla Khalifa Mohamed releasing a stinger in the fifth minute which was parried by Aussie keeper Robert Kolak.
A clever one-two between Million Mwenge Butshire and Kamal Ibrahim was the closest Australia came in the opening quarter before Bahrain took the lead.
A long pass from the back saw Ali Muneer Redha heading the ball back to Sayed who chipped it over the on-coming Kolak for the first goal.
But Australia did not take too long to blast in the equalizer when a square off Nikola Stanojevic from the right saw Butshire playing a slight touch for Ibrahim to tap in from the far end.
The restart saw both teams taking a more cautious approach and with Australia missing out on several free kicks, Bahrain’s failure to score their second goal when Ali Habib Ali hit the crossbar put forward the possibility that it was going to be a drawn match.
But with just minutes remaining, a foul on Lum by Sayed Hashem Adnan Mahfood saw Singapore referee P. Pandian pointing to the spot.
And Lum did not hesitate for their first three points of the game.
“We tried our best but we have to admit that we are satisfied with the performance of the players,” added Bahrain head coach Zouaoui Hosni.
“We were unlucky to concede the penalty but if we had not hit the woodwork, the outcome would have been different.”
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