Twice in arrears, Malaysia staged a stunning comeback through 35-year old attacking midfielder Amri Yah Yah to record a 3-2 victory over Cambodia in the Group B opener at the AFF Suzuki Cup in Yangon yesterday.
In a game of rapidly shifting fortunes, precocious Cambodian talent Chan Vathanaka kept Cambodia in the hunt with a double until Amri, who is Malaysia’s second-most capped internation player with 60 appearances, turned the game on its head with a quick-fire brace.
Much against the run of play, Cambodia took an early lead on seven minutes in bizarre circumstances. Malaysia’s defenders were under the false impression that Vathanaka was offside when he darted in from midfield.
But the linesman to his credit didn’t flag the Cambodian forward. With the the defenders playing to a whistle that never came, Vathanaka sidestepped goalkeeper Fahmi Che Mat to beat him and score.
TV replays suggested Vathanaka was level.
Malaysia’s heads seemed to drop, but they regrouped and managed to restore parity in the 37th minute when Syazvon Zainon’s angular shot on the run caught Warriors’ goalkeeper Sou Yaty off guard.
With both sides pouncing on the slightest chance to attack, the exchanges were highly combative. Yet from a seemingly innocuous situation, Chan Vathanaka produced a magical left-foot finish from the top of the box in the 59th minute to stun Malaysia.
Finding themselves once again in front, Cambodia came under renewed pressure leading to a crack on 68 minutes when Malaysian teenager Hazwan Bakri side-footed the ball to Amri in a goalmouth scramble and the veteran turned in to level the scores.
With 10 minutes to go, Amri exploited his freedom on the edge of the goalmouth to ram home the match winner.
In the opening game of the AFF Suzuki Cup in Manila on Saturday, defending Champions Thailand overwhelmed a stoic Indonesia 4-2 on the back of a hat-trick from Teerasil Dangda in Group A.
In the day’s second fixture, 10-men Singapore managed to squeeze out a goalless draw against hosts Philippines.With his reputation growing, Thailand’s Dangda found three goals – and those strikes could not have been better timed.
Lions see red
The four-time champions were 2-0 up at half-time with Peerapat Notchaiya and Dangda getting on the scoresheet. But then came a dramatic twist as Indonesia hit back with goals from Boas Salloso and Lerby Eliandry in a span of just four minutes to take the game to the Thais.
In the 79th minute Dangda smashed home the go-ahead goal and deep into injury time made the scoreline even more secure and impressive. An open-studded tackle on Philippine skipper Phil Younghusband landed Singapore full-back Hafiz Sujad in serious trouble 10 minutes before the break, dismissed with a straight red.
But the Akzals could not capitalise on their extra man and the game ended 0-0.
In yesterday’s late game in Yangon, Vietnam beat co-hosts Myanmar 2-1.