Sumber: AFC Website
Shah Alam: Norshahrul Idlan Talaha equalised with 20 minutes left as Malaysia denied Bahrain a third consecutive win in the AFC Asian Cup 2015 qualifiers in a 1-1 draw at the Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday.
Abdullah Ahmed Saleh put the Group D leaders ahead when he curled the ball in just before half-time but Norshahrul deservedly levelled the score for the hosts with a similar effort after the interval.
However, the Malayan Tigers failed to make the most of their opportunities in the closing minutes as Bahrain held on for the draw which moved them up to seven points, one ahead of second-placed Qatar and three in front of Malaysia, who they will meet again in Manama next month.
“Overall, I am satisfied with the players' commitment on the field, especially Norshahrul. They gave their very best and I am proud of their performance today,” said Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal.
“As a coach, I am disappointed with the goal we conceded in the first half, but that is football. We bounced back with a quicker tempo in the second half and that gave us the equaliser
“I do not want to put too much pressure on the players after today's match because we still have three matches to play. The most important thing is to keep the players focused on those matches as we will be facing strong teams in Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen.”
The pace of S. Kunalan on the left flank caused problems for the visitors early on but they gradually took control of proceedings with Malaysia goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi called into action to punch away Isa Ahmed Muthanna's free-kick while defender Azammuddin Akil threw his body down to block Sami Mohamed Saeed's close-range volley.
The Tigers conceded a dangerous free kick in the 24th minute, but Saleh Abdul Hameed's stinging shot was repelled by Khairul.
A 40th minute free-kick was the closest Malaysia came to scoring in the first half as the linesman denied Norshahrul with an offside call after the striker brought the ball under control in a good scoring position
As the fourth official signalled for one additional at the end of the first half, Bahrain pounced on a moment of confusion in the Malaysian defence.
Saleh found himself unmarked as the Malaysians scrambled into their positions following a short corner and the Bahrain defender took his time before guiding the ball into the top left corner of Khairul’s net to give the visitors the lead at the break.
The hosts almost went further behind after the interval when Amri Yahyah conceded possession and allowed defender Amirizwan Taj Tajuddin to set up an opportunity for Sayed Ahmed.
But Malaysia began to look more threatening in attack midway through the half and they found an equaliser in the 70th minute when Norshahrul hit the same corner of the net as Saleh in the first half to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Bahrain coach Anthony Hudson urged his side forward in search of a winning goal and Khairul had to parry a stinger from Mohamed Tayeb Alalawi to keep the home side in the game.
With five minutes left on the clock, Rajagobal brought on Ahmad Fakri Saarani for S. Kunalan, signalling his intent to go for three points.
And Norshahrul nearly got the winning goal in stoppage time as the striker drilled his shot just wide of Sayed Mohamed Jaafar’s right post.
“I am a little disappointed because we did not do enough to secure all three points,” said Hudson.
“I hope that the team will reflect on this match and the result, and proceed to raise the bar in our next match and improve our chances of qualifying. I did not have a full squad at my disposal today so that contributed to the result.”