Malaysia Under-23’s hopes to qualify for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 ended after they were not among the top five second place teams in the competition to gain qualification.
The result came after they held China to a 2-2 draw last night at Stadium Shah Alam with Malaysia giving their all to stun their more illustrative Chinese counterparts with brilliant football display.
The Young Tigers needed a win to gain automatic qualification and led twice in the game, only to have China, under legendary manager Guus Hiddink peg them back on both occasions.
China came into the game with 13 goals scored in Group J and the Malaysians having problems converting their chances up-front.
However, it was the Malaysians that drew first blood last night in the 10th minute of play after Yang Liyu landed the ball into his own net following Muhammad Syahmi Safari’s shot.
China leveled through Zhang Yuning’s header to cut the Malaysian celebrations short with both sides entering the dressing room for the break at stalemate.
After the break, attractive attacking football was displayed by both sides with the Malaysians again prevailing as Muhammad Danial Haqim pushed in Malaysia’s second goal in the 54th minute.
This time, China had to wait longer for the equalizer which came with nine minutes left on the clock through Jiang Shenglong’s header.
The stalemate lasted until the final whistle putting China through to the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23, and the Malaysians hoping to check into the competition by being one of the four best second place teams.
That eventualy didn’t happen as Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia won the spots instead.
Despite the failure to qualify for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23, Ong Kim Swee and his men can walk with their heads held high as they they gave the much fancied Chinese side a good run for their money.
China were expected to run over Malaysia in this match, but that wasn’t the case with China the ones sweating as Malaysia led in the game twice. It also showed that Ong Kim Swee could match legendary tacticians like Guus Hiddink at the world stage of football.
With that said, if these young Malaysians continue to play as they did, Malaysia’s future in football looks very promising, and qualification to the World Cup in the future is very likely.
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This article is brought to us by our Sports Writers Club resident columnist – Cyril Dason.