Malaysia stages impressive comeback to defeat Solomon Islands 4-1 in friendly

15 Jun 2023 08:55am
Malaysia overcomes early setback to secure dominant 4-1 win against Solomon Islands - Photo by Bernama
Malaysia overcomes early setback to secure dominant 4-1 win against Solomon Islands - Photo by Bernama

KUALA NERUS - Malaysia came from behind to score a convincing 4-1 victory over a higher ranked Solomon Islands in a Tier 1 International friendly match at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, here yesterday.

The Harimau Malaya squad under South Korean coach Kim Pan Gon started the match in dominating fashion, especially in the first 10 minutes, but were shocked by a quick counter attack that resulted in the opening goal in the 11th minute.

The goal came after a fatal error by goalkeeper Ahmad Syihan Hazmi Mohamed who raced out of his area to cut out the danger from a striker on the right of his goal area but his tackle fell short and allowed striker Raphael Lea’i, the only professional player in the Solomon Island’s team to tap into an open goal.

Stunned by the early setback, Malaysia slowly clawed back into the game and tightened the loose ends before the break, and true enough, the pressure paid off when the equaliser came in the 40th minute through Paulo Josue, a naturalised player.

It was also the first goal for him with the Malaysian squad since becoming a naturalised player in February, this year.

Spurred by the goal, the Harimau Malaya players started to launch attack after attack, causing all sorts of problems for the visiting side and from one of those quick counter attacks, Johor Darul Ta’zim’s nippy striker Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi was brought down inside the box and a penalty was awarded.

Arif Aiman picked himself up, picked up the ball and put the spot kick beyond goalkeeper Philip Mango’s reach to give Malaysia a 2-1 lead by half time.

Leading 2-1 and with 20 minutes of regulation time remaining, Pan Gon brought in Muhammad Safawi Rasid, Muhammad Akhyar Rashid and Lee Tuck to beef up the attack and the move quickly paid dividends when Safawi marked his return to the National squad in superb style and Lee Tuck also made a positive impact.

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Muhammad Safawi who had fallen out of favour in recent international matches, made it 3-1 with a superb moment of magical skill in the 77th minute.

The striker trapped a cross from the right, juggled it over a defender and volleyed the ball into the net in one swift movement that saw the 12,000 odd fans who had filled the stadium, giving him a standing ovation.

Lee Tuck came on stage next to complete the win with a swift strike on the turn in the final minute to close the match with a 4-1 victory over the Solomon Islands ranked 134th in the FIFA world ranking compared with Malaysia’s position in 138th.

The win tonight marked Malaysia’s third consecutive victory in international friendlies after having beaten Turkmenistan 1-0 and Hong Kong (2-0) in Johor in March this year.

Malaysia will next face Papua New Guinea, also in an International Tier 1 match, on Tuesday. - BERNAMA

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