Malaysia edged out Cambodia in an agonisingly close battle for the fifth best runners-up spot that would have given the Kingdom a place among the 16 teams contesting next year’s championship at the completion of all group matches in AFC U19 qualifying.
After losing 3-0 to south Korea in the last Group F match, Malaysia found themselves the fifth best runners-up at the time, as Cambodia missed a golden chance to finish better than their four points in Group G after a goalless draw with the Philippines, who had lost their two previous games 6-0 to Myanmar and China.
Malaysia’s chances hinged on a Group D clash between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
A win for Saudi would have ensured their qualification as group winners, while a win for Yemen would have forced Saudis to seek qualification as one of the five best runners-up, replacing Malaysia.
In the event, the Saudis grabbed an injury-time winner to ensure Malaysia’s qualification in the end.
Malaysia’s four goals scored and four conceded held out against Cambodia’s three and three.
The 16 teams making the final round for the 2018 AFC U19 Championship are: Indonesia (hosts), UAE, Tajikistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan and Australia (group winners), Iraq, Thailand, North Korea, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia (five best runners up).