Malaysia advance, Singapore eliminated from Southeast Asian Games after Thailand rout Cambodia
Malaysia have qualified for the semifinals of the men’s football tournament at the 31st Southeast Asian Games, following a 2-2 draw in Group B with fierce rivals Singapore in a heated clash at the Thien Truong Stadium.
It took the Malaysians just four minutes to open the scoring when opposition defender Harhys Stewart was robbed off possession inside his own area and — despite some desperate last-ditch defending by Singapore — the ball eventually made its way to Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, who kept his composure to lash a shot into the roof of the net.
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But just seven minutes later, Singapore responded in stunning fashion as Shah Shahiran received possession 25 yards out from goal and proceeded to unleash an unstoppable thunderbolt past Azri Ghani’s despairing dive.
A remarkable fightback then looked to be on the cards when the Singaporeans hit the front foot in the 78th minute, with Stewart redeeming himself by prodding the ball over the line from a couple of yards out after his initial effort from a Shah freekick had been kept out by Azri with a point-blank range save.
Malaysia, having been denied twice by the woodwork previously, were however not to be denied an equaliser of their own spoils with eight minutes remaining as Faiz Amer Runnizar climbed highest inside the area to meet a Nik Akif Syahiran corner with a towering header past Zaiful Nizam.
As tempers threated to boil over in the closing stages, both teams showed plenty of endeavour in search of the winner but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils with neither able to snatch a dramatic last-gasp winner.
Thailand claim a dominant 5-0 win over Cambodia on Saturday to move tantalisingly close to sealing their place in the SEA Games semifinals.
The result left Malaysia top of Group B with seven points and eventually proved enough to seal their place in the semifinals after Thailand thrashed Cambodia 5-0 later on Friday evening — a result which also confirmed Singapore’s elimination.
The Thais edged ahead in the fourth minute when Chonnapat Buaphan bundled the ball home from close range after a freekick had come back off the post, before further first-half goals from Korawich Tasa and Worachit Kanitsribampen put them firmly in control of proceedings at the break.
Patrik Gustavsson then struck twice in the final 18 minutes to seal a resounding victory for Thailand, which takes them a point behind Malaysia in second spot.
Thailand can still finish top when they end their group-stage campaign on Monday against Laos, while Malaysia’s last Group B game will be up against Cambodia.