AL RAYYAN (Qatar): A goal in injury time ended Malaysia’s dream of progressing to the second round of the 2023 Asian Cup as the Harimau Malaya squad lost 0-1 to Bahrain in their second Group E match at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium here last night.
Malaysia could ill-afford another loss following their 0-4 defeat to Jordan on Monday, and will wrap up their campaign against two-time champions South Korea this Thursday.
Playing against Bahrain for the first time in the Asian Cup, the Malaysian starting eleven sported four changes as their head coach, Kim Pan Gon, chose to field Mohd Shahrul Mohd Saad and Dominic Tan in defence, Mohamed Syamer Kutty Abba in midfield and Paulo Josue as the sole striker in a 5-4-1 formation.
The changes seemed to nearly have borne results, especially in the 16th minute, when Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi pounced on a loose ball that Josue failed to tuck home off a cross from Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim, only to have his shot deflected by Bahrain keeper Ebrahim Lutfalla.
Arif Aiman came close to scoring again three minutes later, but was a little too late in securing a cross from Josue, and in the 28th minute, right back Matthew Davies’ cross from the left of goal just missed the post.
Bahrain then staged their own attack in the 31st minute as midfielder Komail Alaswad slipped past the Malaysian defence in the penalty box and managed to beat keeper Ahmad Syihan Hazmi Mohamed, but thankfully Dion Cools and Dominic were on hand to manage the situation.
While Malaysia seemed to have dominated play in the first half, Bahrain had a resurgence in the second, with Abdulla Yusuf’s header in the 56th minute that was just shy of the post putting the Malaysians on notice.
Still the Harimau Malaya squad held their ground, and very nearly managed to score in the 90th minute through a cracking volley by Davis that floated up high off a cross from substitute Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid.
Bahrain squandered their chance just as injury time began, with substitute midfielder Ali Hasan’s shot from a brilliant one-two move saved by Ahmad Syihan.
But it was to be Bahrain’s night, and as the sixth minute of injury time came, midfielder Ali Madan scored the sole goal of the match, pouncing on a corner kick and slotting the ball in past Ahmad Syihan.
Meanwhile, in the other Group E match tonight at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Jordan made the most of their 2-2 draw against South Korea to book their spot in the round of 16.
Jordan was unlucky not to have secured all three points, as defender Yazan Al Arab scored an own goal in the second half’s injury time. Ironically, one of Jordan’s goals came from an own goal by South Korean Park Yong Woo in the 37th minute.
South Korea had gotten an early lead thanks to Tottenham Hotspur player Son Heung Min in the ninth minute only to allow Jordan back into the game thanks to the own goal in the 37th minute, and Jordan then took the lead with Yazan Al Naimat’s first half injury time goal. – Bernama