KUALA LUMPUR: Striker Darren Lok scored the only goal as Malaysia earned three vital points after a 1-0 win against Taiwan in the second round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers at the Taipei Municipal Stadium tonight.
The Sabah FC player came on as a substitute for Paulo Josue in tonight’s Group D match and rose to the occasion by netting in the 72nd minute.
National head coach Kim Pan-gon made a total of four changes to the starting 11 that beat Kyrgyzstan 4-3 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium last week as Junior Eldstal, Afiq Fazail, Paulo and Akhyar Rashid came into the side.
An uneven pitch did not help the quality of play, but both teams did their best to play their own game in the first half, with winger Faisal Halim wasting a great opportunity to score for Harimau Malaya when he hit the post in the 43rd minute.
The stalemate continued into the second half until Pan-gon changed things up with half an hour of the match remaining, bringing on Darren and Endrick dos Santos.
The move paid off when an unmarked Darren pounced on a deflection off Taiwan’s goalkeeper Pan Wen Chieh to put Malaysia ahead.
With only 18 minutes left, Taiwan went all out for an equaliser but the national team’s disciplined defence stood firm until the end of the match to repel the home side’s repeated attacks.
Tonight’s victory is Malaysia’s first away win in Taipei after losing their last three matches there in a streak that began in 2000.
Malaysia top Group D with six points, while Taiwan are last without a single point.
The other teams in the group, Oman and Kyrgyzstan, are scheduled to play later tonight.