| Fadhil Yunus |
BRUNEI Darussalam’s Under-22 national team made Malaysia’s Under-22 work hard for their win during a 2-1 defeat in Group ‘A’ in the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at the Shah Alam Stadium in Kuala Lumpur last night.
Johor Darul Ta’zim player Safawi Rasid opened the scoring with a smashing first-time volley inside three minutes before the visitors stunned the home crowd after Zulkhairy Hady Razali took advantage of Malaysia’s lapse of concentration with a neat finish after 12 minutes.
Malaysia’s defender Adam Nor Azlin ended Brunei’s stubborn resistance after nodding home from a corner to restore their lead in the 60th minute.
Matthew Thomas Davies whipped in a pinpoint cross to Safawi who struck the ball first time with a sweet volley allowing goalkeeper Haimie Anak Nyaring no chance.
However, almost from nowhere, Mohammad Akif Roslan played a long ball which caught the Malaysian back-line napping as Zulkhairy sensed an opportunity running with the ball and aided with a slight tumble from goalkeeper Mohd Ifwat Akmal bin Chek Kassim, the Bruneian forward coolly slotted home the equalising goal.
Davis proved to be a valuable outlet for Malaysia after spraying six crosses in only 18 minutes with Safawi failing to find the target with his header on the sixth cross.
Malaysia sent a long ball for Syazwan Andik Ishak who was caught in two minds as he ballooned his shot.
Rasid’s free-kick grazed against the crossbar but the ball bounced back into play and as two Malaysian forwards combined to apply pressure Haimie showed good reflexes to turn the ball away for a corner.
However, in the halfway mark, Nor Azlin outjumped the Bruneian defence to regain the lead much to the relief of head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee.
The unmarked Syazwan received a good ball and controlled it well to set up a shot but completely got it wrong as the Bruneian defence cleared the danger away.
Brunei defender Suhaimi Anak Sulau tested Ifwat with a decent free-kick from long-range as his side searched to level matters for a second time.
Malaysia put on fresh legs, giving ample time for the introduction of Kumaahran Sathasivam, though the forward was unable to keep his header down.
Meanwhile in the other group match, Myanmar got off to a perfect start after overcoming Singapore 2-0 through a brace from Aung Thu.
Malaysia Under-22’s head coach Ong Kim Swee revealed in a post-match conference that Brunei made life difficult for them adding that it is good that they managed to grab a second goal for the win.
Brunei, whose closest chance of attaining a medal in football when they lost out to Malaysia in the bronze medal playoff, will play Myanmar next on August 18 at the UiTM Stadium.