Monday, December 27, 2010

AFF Suzuki Cup : One More Step To The Biggest Victory!

MALAYSIA are on course to create history in the AFF Suzuki Cup! 
The Malaysian team overwhelmed favourites Indonesia with a second half blitz, courtesy of a brace from Safee Sali and a brilliant goal by Ashaari Shamsuddin, to carve out a 3-0 victory in the first leg at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The homesters were quiet in the opening 45 minutes but made it memorable for their fans with a brilliant second half performance to record their biggest win over Indonesia in 30 years.

Malaysia will take a three-goal cushion to Jakarta, where both teams face each other again in the return leg on Wednesday. Indonesia started the match with full confidence and almost found the opening in the fourth minute when flanker Muhammad Ridwan managed to break free from his markers before making a defence splitting pass, which left the Malaysian team stranded but striker Cristian Gonzales failed to latch onto the ball for a goal kick.

The Indonesian team continued to torment their opponents but in the heat of the moment, Octovianus Maniani was left in tears when he was booked for elbowing right back Mahalli Jasuli a minute later.

The Jayapura midfielder, who has been instrumental in Indonesia's excellent performance in the tournament, will be suspended for the return leg. The Malaysian team came alive after a shaky opening 18 minutes with S. Kunalan testing Indonesia goalkeeper Markus Harison Rihihina first.

The hard running Negri Sembilan player beat two Indonesian defenders on the left and managed to make an attempt but his shot was well-saved by the keeper. The homesters began to move forward in numbers and it caught Indonesia off-guard several times in the penalty box.

In the 22nd minute, Malaysia had a good chance to take the lead when captain Safiq Rahim stole the ball from Ridwan inside the penalty box with goalkeeper Markus off his line but the midfielder's looping shot went over the crossbar. Not to be deterred, Indonesia kept their pressure on Malaysia and were almost punished when midfielder Amar Rohidan lost possession just outside the penalty in the 27th minute.

Striker Yongky Ari Bowo picked up the loose ball from Amar's blunder and played a one-two with Gonzales but his low grounder in the penalty box went wide. Malaysia's flankers Kunalan and Amirulhadi Zainal were in their element with their fast pace football, which left the Indonesian defenders stranded in a few occasions but they were let down by their poor crosses into the penalty box

In the final minute of the first half, Amirulhadi received a blow when referee Toma Masaaki gave him a yellow card, his second in the tournament, for fouling an Indonesian player. The Selangor player will be suspended for the return leg. It was an average first half with both team failing to get into their groove to create goal scoring opportunities. Malaysia's midfielders, who are normally dependable, were a huge disappointment as they were regularly losing possession.

National coach K. Rajagobal made a tactical change by substituting Amirul with last season's top scorer Ashaari to beef up his team's attacking options for the second half. Kunalan, who played on the left wing, was moved to the right while Ashaari took over his teammate's role.

It turned out to be an effective tactical change as Kunalan and Ashaari brought more zest into the Malaysian attack but the match was interrupted by the referee for six minutes due to crowd disturbance. Some fans threw firecrackers onto the pitch and also used laser light beams on players of both teams.

Malaysia's crowning moment came in the 60th minute, courtesy of a mistake by Indonesia defender Mohammad Nasuha, whose lapse of concentration allowed Norshahrul Idlan Talaha to steal the ball from him on the right.  The Kelantan striker used his trademark burst and dash tactics to confuse his markers before passing to teammate Safee, who made no mistakes to put Malaysia in front.

Indonesia were left in shambles against an inspired Malaysian side and soon found themselves two goals down. Norshahrul again turned provider seven minutes later when his brilliant pass, also from the right, found Ashaari, whose first-timer just inside the penalty box beat Indonesia keeper Markus. But Malaysia were not done yet. Safee scored from a header, off a brilliant cross from Mahalli, which left the Indonesian defence rooted in the 72nd minute.

Indonesia tried in vain to reduce the deficit but could not find the opening against a stout Malaysian defence. And when the final whistle was blown, the Malaysian fans celebrated in sheer delight while the disappointed Indonesian fans left the stadium immediately.

Malaysia’s Safee Sali (left) shoots through Indonesia’s Zulkifli Syukur (second from left) during their AFF Suzuki Cup final first leg yesterday.

 Malaysia’s Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (left) tries to get past two Indonesian defenders in their AFF Suzuki Cup first leg match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan
TWO-GOAL HERO: Safee Sali celebrating after scoring his second goal in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup final at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.

No comments:

Post a Comment