KUALA NERUS: An excellent second half performance was the key to Malaysia’s 10-0 victory over Papua New Guinea in a Tier 1 international friendly at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium tonight.
Sensational young winger Arif Aiman Hanapi and naturalised player Paulo Josue stole the show with four and three goals respectively to mesmerise the 9,592 spectators at the stadium.
Kim Pan-gon’s men scored nine goals in the second half after taking the lead at the end of the first period through Safawi Rasid’s penalty after a foul on Akhyar Rashid.
The national team’s goal fest could have begun much earlier in the game, but with a series of golden opportunities missed in the first half, Pan-gon made several changes including bringing on Arif and Faisal Halim.
The second half blitz started in the 52nd minute, with Josue showing good ball control when receiving Azam Azmi Murad’s pass before calmly firing a shot past goalkeeper Ronald Warisan.
Five minutes later, Arif scored the national team’s third goal after successfully beating the offside trap to meet Nooa Laine’s beautiful pass, while Faisal made it 4-0 two minutes later.
Arif got his second goal in the 60th minute after finishing off Faisal’s pass in the penalty box, followed by Josue’s second goal four minutes later.
Arif bagged the first hattrick of the match when he scored Malaysia’s seventh goal in the 68th minute and Josue followed suit with his own just two minutes later.
Malaysia added to Papua New Guinea’s misery when Daniel Ting scored the ninth in the 76th minute, before Arif capped an excellent night with his fourth personal goal just three minutes before fulltime.
The success saw the national team record their fourth victory over Papua New Guinea in five meetings, while it was also their fourth consecutive friendly win since March.
It was also Malaysia’s biggest win since beating Bhutan 7-0 in a friendly in April 2018.
For the record, only five players – Shahrul Saad, Stuart Wilkin, Josue, La’Vere Corbin-Ong and Endrick Dos Santos – were retained by Pan-gon from the squad that defeated Solomon Islands 4-1 in another friendly here last Wednesday, with goalkeeper Sikh Izhan Nazrel Sikh Azman making his national debut.