SENAYAN (17 Nov 2011) – Substitute Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim delivered the winner as defending champions Malaysia edged Indonesia in the last Group A match at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium tonight. The win resulted in Malaysia replacing Indonesia as the group winners, thus avoiding a semi-final clash against Group B champs Vietnam in two days.
Malaysia’s victory in front of a capacity crowd of over 80,000 Indonesian fans was marred by the sacking of coach Ong Kim Swee in the 69th minute. He was sent off for protesting a tackle on the goal scorer. In the absence of the coach, the players managed to keep their cool to deny Indonesia from scoring the equaliser.
The three points Malaysia picked up today propelled them to the top of the group with 10 points while Indonesia settled for second spot with nine points. Singapore, which earlier stunned Thailand 2-0 this evening at the same venue, completed their fixtures third with seven points.
In the semi-finals at the Gelora on Saturday, Malaysia will face Myanmar first at 4pm while Vietnam will take on the hosts later at 7.30pm. The final is scheduled to be held on Monday.
In tonight’s match, Indonesia started without regular keeper Kurnia Meiga, striker Patrich Wanggai, flanker Oktovianus Maniani and skipper Egi Melgiansyah. Coach Rahmad Darmawan brought in Okto and Egi in the second half and while it boosted the attack, it did not lead to the goal they were seeking.
Malaysia gave the capacity home fans a scare just three minutes into the game when Baddrol Bakhtiar’s crisp shot from a few feet from the top of the box sailed straight into the arms of Andritany Ardhiyasa.
The Malaysians suffered a blow in the 13th minute when they were forced to replace the speedy Wan Zaharul Wan Zakaria, who limped off the pitch, with 18-year-old Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim. But that was quickly forgotten when Syahrul, after connecting to a Mahali Jasuli pass, squeezed his shot past Andritany in the 17th minute.
Indonesia worked hard to try and get back into the game. Led by star striker Titus Bonai, the forwards however were unable to make their last pass count and failed to make any serious attempts in the first half.
Malaysia on the other hand had several chances, the closest was in the 25th minute when Izzaq Faris’ header was cleared off the line by defender Hendro Siswanto.
Indonesia had a brilliant start after the break with three superb shots, two of them were through Titus while the other was from Lucas Mandowen. Titus should have netted the equaliser but he tapped just wide.
Indonesia brought in skipper Egi and Oktovianus in the 59th and 76th minutes to shore up the attack. In between the two crucial changes, coach Kim Swee was sent off by referee Fahad Alkassar from UAE for protesting a tackle on Syahrul by Ferdinand Sinaga. The fourth official complained to the referee who then pointed Kim Swee to the stands.
With time running out, Oktovianus almost gave the fans what they were waiting for, unfortunately his header slipped over the crossbar.
Izzaq could have finished off the game but he was unable to control his shot from inside the box. The Malaysians held on to walk away with full points and finish the preliminary rounds unbeaten.
SEA GAMES FIXTURES
|07.11.2011||SINGAPORE 0||vs||MALAYSIA 0||A||1600 hrs||GELORA BUNG KARNO|
|INDONESIA 6||vs||CAMBODIA 0||1900 hrs|
|09.11.2011||MALAYSIA 2||vs||THAILAND 1||A||1600 hrs||GELORA BUNG KARNO|
|CAMBODIA 1||vs||SINGAPORE 2||1900 hrs|
|11.11.2011||SINGAPORE 0||vs||INDONESIA 2||A||1400 hrs||GELORA BUNG KARNO|
|THAILAND 4||vs||CAMBODIA 0||1700 hrs|
|13.11.2011||MALAYSIA 4||vs||CAMBODIA 1||A||1600 hrs||GELORA BUNG KARNO|
|INDONESIA 3||vs||THAILAND 1||1900 hrs|
|17.11.2011||THAILAND 0||vs||SINGAPORE 2||A||1600 hrs||GELORA BUNG KARNO|
|INDONESIA 0||vs||MALAYSIA 1||1900 hrs|