JAKARTA (19 Nov 2011) – Ahmad Fakri Saarani repaid the faith his coach had in him by scoring the winner and leading defending champions Malaysia into the final of the 26th Jakarta SEA Games football competition at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium tonight.
With five minutes left on the clock and the threat of extra time looming, Malaysia raided the Myanmar defence like they had throughout the game. This time however, substitute Izzaq Faris Ramlan drilled in the cross but Mohd Irfan Fazail mistimed his connection. Fortunately for the Malaysians, Fakri, a player who had not been playing regularly at club level, sneaked through in and popped in the winner.
“Fakri has been going through some difficult times, but I saw something in this boy. I told him he must believe in himself and tonight he gave us the winning goal,” explained Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee, who was sitting in the stands to serve a one-match suspension for picking up a red card in the match against Indonesia.
Kim Swee added that his team did not have a good first half although they recovered later in the game. “In the second half, the players showed good character to come back and they went on to get the goal.”
Malaysia, still brushing off the effects from the tough game against Indonesia two days ago, were slow to get going which allowed Myanmar to take charge. After one attempt in the fifth minute, the rest of the second half saw Myanmar doing most of the attacking.
Although they had several chances, Myanmar had problems finishing off their opponents. Kyaw Zeyar Win for example had several shots but all of them were off the mark, including in the 14th and 25th minutes. Kyi Lin and top striker Kyaw Ko Ko were unable to convert their chances in the 9th and 42nd minutes.
Malaysia too had a few attempts before the break. Mohd Irfan’s shot from inside was saved while skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar’s long strike in the 37th minute sailed over the bar.
The Young Tigers, after getting a chance to listen to their coach during the break, came out sharper and more committed. Just two minutes after the game resumed, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim exploded into the box but his shot was easily saved. Not too long later, Fakri’s header was off the mark while Mohamed Fandi Othman’s strike was caught by Myanmar keeper Thi Has Thu just past the hour.
Then, with five minutes to go, Fakri silenced the 40,000 plus fans, who were cheering for Myanmar. For the first time in the match, the small band of Malaysian fans could be heard hammering their drums and cheering their heroes on.
“We had a good game. Malaysia had a tough game against Indonesia and were not fit, we had a four-day break. If the game had gone into extratime, we would have killed them off. But today, they were the better team. We had one or two chances in the first half which we did not take,” said Myanmar’s head coach Stefan Hansson.
MALAYSIA (Yellow/Black/Yellow): Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (GK), Mahali Jasuli, Mohamad FadhliMohd Shas, Mohd Asraruddin Omar, Mohd Irfan Fazail, Baddrol Bakhtiar (cpt), Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Mohamad Fandi Othman, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim (Izzaq Faris, Thamil Arasu Ambumanee), Muhd Nazmi Faiz Mansor (K. Gurusamy), Mohamad Muslim Ahmad
Head coach: Ong Kim Swee
Scorer: Ahmad Fakri Saarani (85th)
Yellow cards: nil
MYANMAR (Red/Red/Red): Thi Has Thu (GK), Zaw Min Tun, Yan Aung Win, Aye San, Min Min Thu, Kyaw Ko Ko, Pyaye Phyo Oo (Aung Myint Aye), Kyi Lin, Kyaw Zeyar Win (Min Mintun), Zaw Zaw Oo Yan Aung Kyaw), Shwe Hlaing Win
Head coach: Stefan Hansson
Yellow cards: Aye San (90th)
Referee: Kao Jung Fang (Chinese Taipei)
Asst Referee 1: Ahmad Saeed Baloud Al Shamisi (UAE)
Asst Referee 2: Hsu Min Yu (Chinese Taipei)
Fourth Official: Fahad Alkassar (UAE)
Match Commissioner: David Hutagaol (Indonesia)
Referee Assessor: Basel Alhajjar (Syria)
General Coordinator: Chuang Chin Fan (Chinese Taipei)
SEA GAMES 2011 SEMI-FINALS FIXTURES
|MALAYSIA 1||vs||MYANMAR 0||1600 hrs||
GELORA BUNG KARNO
|MYANMAR||vs||Loser 2nd Semis||1600 hrs||
GELORA BUNG KARNO
|MALAYSIA||vs||Winner 2nd Semis||1930 hrs|