Al Ain: Substitute Ahmad Fakri scored the winner with 13 minutes remaining as 10-man Malaysia ended their AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win over Yemen on Wednesday, although it was not enough to see Ong Kim Swee’s side qualify for the 2015 finals.
Malaysia had to claim all three points on offer at Tahnon Bin Mohamed Stadium to keep alive their slim hopes of advancing as the best third place finish across all five qualification groups and Ong’s side secured just a second win in Group D despite the early dismissal of defender Amirizdwan Tajudin
But with 2007 champions Iraq beating China 3-1 in Group C, Malaysia missed out on securing a place in the March 26 draw in Sydney despite Mohammed Amri and Fakri scoring either side of an equaliser from Yemen’s Mohammed Al Sarori on the hour mark.
“I’m really delighted with the win especially because we managed to get the three points from an away match. We could have achieved a better result had we played with a complete team,” said Malaysia coach Ong.
“We managed to get a good victory and we were hoping to qualify to the finals, but at the end of the day this is football and we must look for a brighter future.”
Needing to win to keep their qualification hopes alive, Malaysia suffered a huge blow inside the first 10 minutes as defender Tajudin was sent-off after being adjudged to have hauled down Sadam Hussein as the striker charged towards goal.
But fortunately for Malaysia they did not suffer a double blow as goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi saved the resulting penalty from Wahid Al Khyat.
And despite their numerical disadvantage, Malaysia took the lead after 16 minutes as Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al Sowadi could only parry Hafiz Kamal’s free-kick onto the crossbar and Amri followed up to head home from close range.
Yemen, though, quickly set about their task against the 10 men and Fahmi was kept busy for the remainder of the half.
And Yemen’s pressure finally paid off on the hour mark as captain Ala Al Sasi’s deft through ball from the edge of the area played in Al Sarori and the striker fired high past Fahmi.
Yemen continued to dominate with Fahmi forced into spectacular save to turn away Al Sasi’s free-kick six minutes later.
But despite opposite number Al Sowadi remaining largely a spectator for the majority of the second half, the Yemen goalkeeper was again beaten with 13 minutes remaining as Fakri acrobatically turned home Nazrin Nawi’s free-kick.
Yemen pressed in the closing stages, but were unable to find an equaliser for a second time in the contest to avoid a sixth defeat of the campaign.
“We were hoping to end the qualifiers with just one point and we nearly got a point as Malaysia played most of the match with 10 players. We tried our best to get a positive result but we couldn’t get past the Malaysian defenders,” said Yemen coach Abraham Gebreslassie.
“On the other hand, Malaysia relied on the quick counterattacks and they had a good advantage over us by using this tactic.
“At the end of the day we lost the match and I hope that the players can learn some lessons from this defeat.” -AFC-