Malaysia and Vietnam off to winning starts

Nguyen Van Toan (centre) of Vietnam in action against Yan Aung Kyaw (right) of Myanmar during the AFF Suzuki Cup Group B soccer match in Thuwanna Football stadium in Yangon, on Nov 20, 2016.
Nguyen Van Toan (centre) of Vietnam in action against Yan Aung Kyaw (right) of Myanmar during the AFF Suzuki Cup Group B soccer match in Thuwanna Football stadium in Yangon, on Nov 20, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

YANGON • Malaysia opened their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign yesterday with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Cambodia in Yangon.

Two second-half goals from captain Amri Yahyah saved the day for the 2010 winners after Cambodia took a 2-1 lead in the 59th minute thanks to a second goal from Chan Vathanaka, who also scored their opener in the eighth minute.

Syazwan Zainon had made it 1-1 for Malaysia in the 37th minute at the Thuwunna Stadium and it took constant pressure and Amri's brace for them to secure victory in the last 20 minutes.

"It was a hard fought game as I had expected," said Malaysia's coach Ong Kim Swee. "Most importantly we came back strongly after conceding two silly goals.

"Cambodia has improved a lot and they prepared very well for the tournament. I don't think any team will have an easy game against them."

Cambodia's opening goal came in controversial fashion, though.

Chan, put through on goal, ignored the assistant referee's flag for offside and rounded goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi to score.

The Malaysian players protested furiously but referee Abdul Baqi Yaqoob maintained it was a legitimate goal - and the Omani was vindicated by TV replays which showed Chan level with Malaysia's last man Shahrom Kalam.

In another Group B match last night at the Thuwanna Stadium, co-hosts Myanmar ran Vietnam close but suffered a late heartbreak to lose 1-2.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia and Vietnam off to winning starts'. Print Edition | Subscribe