HONG KONG • Record scorelines left fans cringing and coaches looking over their shoulders yesterday, after an avalanche of goals cruelly exposed the gulf in class at Asia's World Cup qualifying.
A total of 76 goals were rattled in across the continent in Thursday's 15 football games - an average of 5.067 per match, one of the highest on record.
Malaysian supporters were aghast after their team crashed 10-0 against the United Arab Emirates, their worst defeat, eclipsing their previous low of 8-2 against New Zealand in 1967.
The New Straits Times newspaper said the defeat "can be considered the national team's biggest humiliation in history".
"Hey guys, if you are keen on learning how to count from 1 to 10 in Arabic, go and watch the highlights from the game of UAE vs Malaysia," tweeted Malaysia fan Amir Azmi.
Average goals per match in Thursday's 15 World Cup 2018 Asian qualifiers
Biggest hiding of Thursday saw Qatar wallop Bhutan
Tiny Bhutan also suffered a heavy defeat, as they shipped 15 goals against Qatar - an average of about one every six minutes.
The result was Qatar's biggest win, almost twice the margin of their 8-0 victories over Afghanistan and Lebanon in the 1980s.
It was a jolting reality check for Bhutan, who have climbed off the bottom of the world rankings and are competing in the second round of qualifying for the first time.
Several posts on Facebook questioned the appointment of Japanese head coach Norio Tsukitate, who was brought in after Chokey Nima had led the "Dragon Boys" into the second round.
But Bhutan and Malaysia were not the only teams with red faces as Laos lost 8-0 to South Korea, Kuwait pummelled Myanmar 9-0 and Saudi Arabia beat Timor-Leste 7-0.
Iran smashed six without reply against Guam, Iraq beat Taiwan 5-1 and Australia thumped Bangladesh 5-0, with Japan's 3-0 win over Cambodia looking tepid by comparison.
One game without goals was Hong Kong's dogged 0-0 draw with China, which was greeted like a victory in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Malaysian media cast doubt over the future of coach Dollah Salleh, who fielded three different goalkeepers during his side's catastrophe in Abu Dhabi.
"Malaysia will play another tough customer, No. 93 Saudi Arabia, in four days' time at the Shah Alam Stadium," The Star newspaper said. "But the question is whether Dollah will still be around by then?"
Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, a vocal critic of the Football Association of Malaysia, said the state would be happy to contribute towards hiring a replacement for Dollah.
"Johor FA will contribute a budget to hire a foreign coach who would be more qualified to lead our national team. Enough is enough, we cannot continue to ignore the problem we are facing," he said in a Facebook post on the Johor Darul Takzim page.
"Sack Dollah Salleh as soon as possible to improve whatever we can and to save whatever dignity we have left."
Forty teams featured in round two before political interference prompted Fifa to ban Indonesia.
The qualifiers also double as a route to the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE which has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams - raising the prospect of more big scores at the tournament in four years' time.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS