NAM ĐỊNH — In a surprising twist on the final day of Group B in the SEA Games 31 men’s football tournament, Cambodia held Malaysia to a 2-2 draw, and Thailand capitalised by winning against Laos to top the group.
In Thiên Trường Stadium, Malaysia, assured of a place in the semi-finals, rested many key players for their last match against Cambodia.
Keisuke Honda’s side, which usually goes all-out attack no matter what were transformed into a defensive team with five at the back.
Malaysia had 29 shots on target, almost ten times higher than the Angkor Warriors, but the Cambodians scored the opening goal.
In the last minute of the first half, Malaysian defender Quentin Cheng handled the ball inside the box, and the referee quickly pointed to the spot. Choun Chanchav stepped up and hit a rocket into the top left corner of Azri Ghani’s goal.
Malaysia pushed for the equaliser early in the second half and got what they wanted in the 51st minute. Taing Bunchhai took out Azfar Fikri Azhar inside the Cambodian box, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot for the second time. Hadi Fayyadh misled Hui Kimhuy and equalised 1-1 for Malaysia.
Malaysia’s coach Brad Maloney was bringing key players on for the win, but before he could sub them in, Malaysia conceded again in the 61st minute.
From a long ball inside his half, Cambodian striker Sa Ty quickly penetrated the Malaysian defence, and his shot went through the keeper’s legs to bring back the lead for Cambodia.
Eight minutes later, Malaysia equalised through Fayyadh’s great turn and shot. But with time and strength on their side, they still couldn’t find the win and disappointingly drew 2-2.
Later in the Thiên Trường Stadium, Thailand needed to win against Laos to go top of group B with a minimal 1-0 win against Laos, and coach Mano Polking used his best squad but the Thai players could not find the net. However, a solitary own goal by Laos meant they suffered a loss.
With these results, Malaysia will meet hosts Việt Nam in the semi-finals in the Việt Trì Stadium, Phú Thọ, while Thailand will return to Thiên Trường Stadium to face Indonesia. Both matches will take place on May 19.
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