Harimau Malaya go down 1-2 to UAE after taking early lead

Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid takes a tumble during Malaysia’s match against the UAE in the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup second qualifying round at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium tonight. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A spirited Malaysia fought hard but the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had the extra edge as Harimau Malaya went down 1-2 in the Group G match of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup second qualifying round at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium tonight.

Forward Ali Ahmed Mabkhout was UAE’s hero, following his double strike in the 43rd and 75th minutes which inspired the Al-Abyad’s (The White) away comeback.

Malaysia’s Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad shocked the UAE with an opening goal after just 36 seconds when he headed in Matthew Davies’ inch-perfect cross to give the home team a perfect start.

Malaysia, who recorded a 3-2 win against their regional rivals Indonesia in Jakarta last Thursday, could have gone further ahead inside 25 minutes of play.

However, Syafiq’s effort in the 14th minute after Matthew strung a low cross was blocked by an opponent, while an unmarked Norshahrul Idlan Talaha failed to convert inside the penalty box in the 24th minute.

Elsewhere, in another Group G match tonight, Thailand thrashed Indonesia 3-0 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.

Malaysia and UAE, with three points each, trail Thailand by one point while Vietnam are in fourth place with one point. Indonesia remain without a point at the bottom.