KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia produced an outstanding performance to pull off a 3-0 win over favourites and four-time champions Australia in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-18 championship in Vietnam today.
With their third win in four games so far, the national team shot straight to the top of Group B with nine points, the same as Australia.
The view from the top, however, could change soon as coach Brad Maloney’s boys have gritty Thailand next for the final group game on Thursday.
In today’s match at the Thanh Long Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Malaysia played with confidence despite Australia controlling the early periods.
Nippy striker Luqman Hakim Shamsudin put Malaysia ahead after scoring off a Mohd Nasip Mohammad Zain’s long pass in the 17th minute.
Australia’s defence were punished again in the 27th minute, after defender Muhammad Azam Azmi Murad, who was left unmarked latched on to a corner kick and fired past Australian goalkeeper Jackson Henry Sidney Lee.
Malaysia went three up in the 39th minute when Luqman Hakim scored his second by dribbling past the Australian defence before firing the ball into the net.
The Australians had a golden opportunity to narrow the gap off a corner kick but Fabian Andres Monge fluffed his chance.
“”The players are getting better and better and today is proof of that.
“(For today’s game) we had analysed all their problems and the players capitalised on those areas. Credit to the players as they stuck to the game plan,” Maloney said.
The national squad, who are the defending champions, kicked off their campaign on the wrong foot when they lost 0-1 to Vietnam before going on to beat Singapore 3-1 and Cambodia 3-0.