Tigers mauled by UAE raiders

THE unexpected did not happen as the tie went according to the script and Malaysia were thrashed 5-0 by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their opening 2011 Asian Cup qualifying match at the KLFA Stadium yesterday. UAE started slowly but once they got into their groove, there was no way Malaysia were going to deny them the winning start they desperately wanted after their Gulf Cup exit.

Though some 5,000 actually made their way to the stadium, it would have been hard to find more than the hardcore who expected Malaysia to open their qualifying campaign on a winning note. But there was a pleasant surprise, as far as the start was concerned, when Malaysia took the game to their more fancied opponents and they could have taken a shock lead in the ninth minute but Safee Sali was a little slow and failed to connect to a Hardi Jaafar cross.

UAE were struggling to settle and Malaysia continued pressing forward and in the 17th minute, Khyril Muhymeen had the fans off their seats but his shot hit the left upright. The Arabs were slowly but surely finding their way and in the 25th minute, Malaysia were saved by skipper Norhafiz Zamani Misbah who cleared Ismail Matar’s effort. UAE began to assert their superiority after that and four minutes later, skipper Mohammed Omar slotted home after receiving a pass from Ismail. The goal could have been avoided but for Malaysian keeper Syamsuri Mustafa’s hesitance in coming off his line.

And just before the break, UAE went further ahead when Australian referee William Jon awarded a penalty for a challenge by Hardi Jaafar on Ismail Salem. The Malaysians were incensed but Mohammed scored from the spot and the fans registered their objection by raining objects onto the pitch. Trailing by two goals despite a relativily good performance, Malaysia came out for the second half intent on giving it a go and their early pressure saw Khyril having a decent chance which UAE keeper Majed Naser blocked.

Jon also continued to be in the spotlight as the Malaysians, still angry for the Australian’s first half penalty decision, questioned almost everything and this played into UAE’s hands as they opted to sit back and hit the national team on counter attacks. One such move resulted in the third goal as Mohammaed Saeed played the ball on the right to Ismail who scored with a half volley in the 62nd minute. Malaysian coach B. Sathianathan responded by substituting Syamsuri with Syed Adney Syed Syed Hussein in the 68th minute but that did little to limit the damage as UAE hit Malaysia for another two. Ismail Matar made it 4-0 in the 75th minute and five minutes from time, Ahmed Khalil made it 5-0 and Malaysia’s 2011 Asian Cup campaign is virtually over

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