Under-22 squad beat Hong Kong to lift Merlion Cup for the first time

27 Mar 2023 12:30am
Malaysia Under-22s beat their Hong Kong counterparts 201 to win the Merlion Cup in Singapore.
Malaysia Under-22s beat their Hong Kong counterparts 201 to win the Merlion Cup in Singapore.

KUALA LUMPUR - The national under-22 squad created history by lifting the 2023 Merlion Cup after defeating the Hong Kong under-22s 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore last night.

This was the first victory by a Malaysian team in the tournament since its inception in 1982, which also erased the embarassment of Malaysia's representatives placing bottom of the table in their two previous appearances in 1982 and 1985.

Coach E Elavarasan's charges began strongly and went in search of an opening goal as soon as the fifth minute, when striker Muhammad Aliff Izwan's attempt was blocked by Hong Kong goalkeeper Ng Wai Him.

Then in the 20th minute, Muhammad Azrin Afiq managed to put the ball in the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

After a scoreless first half, Malaysia upped the pressure in the second half and in the 57th minute again put the ball in the back of the net through Muhammad Najmuddin Akmal, which was again disallowed.

Not to be disheartened by the two disallowed goals, Malaysia continued to pile on the pressure and Najmuddin finally got them their just reward when his 74th minute header found the back of the net and this time it counted.

Just five minutes later, Muhammad Safwan Mazlan doubled the score for the Malaysians with a long range effort.

Hong Kong pulled a goal back in the 80th minute through Lau Ka Kiu, bringing about a tense final 10 minutes.

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A fracas broke out in the final minutes which saw Malaysia's Muhammad Hakimi and Hong Kong's Kong Maddox both shown the red card, but the score remained 2-1 till the final whistle.

Cambodia finished third in the competition after beating hosts Singapore 2-1.-BERNAMA