AFTER over two years, the Harimau Malaya roar was heard again at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium last night as the national football squad thrashed regional neighbours Brunei 4-0 in a Tier 1 international friendly match.
Malaysia, who dominated the match from the first minute, opened the scoring when striker Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad’s header found the net in the 16th minute via V. Ruventhiran’s corner kick.
South Korean Kim Pan Gon’s boys made the most of their short passes and almost added another goal in the 11st minute after Muhammad Syafiq’s scissor kick strike was saved by Brunei goalkeeper Muhammad Haimie Abdullah Nyaring in the 41st minute.
A one-two move started by nippy winger, Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim caught Brunei off guard and Muhammad Syamer Kutty Abba had no problems with a ground shot to put Malaysia comfortably ahead 2-0 in added time of the first half.
Pan Gon’s decision to bring in several players such as Dominic Tan, Muhammad Safawi Rasid, Muhamad Nazmi Faiz Mansor, as well as two naturalised players, Guilherme De Paula and Liridon Krasniqi paid off when Malaysia came out stronger in the second half.
It did not take long for De Paula to come close. In the 47th minute, Ruventhiran found the Brazilian-born forward but his header failed to hit the target.
Malaysia stretched their lead further after Mohamad Faisal scored the team’s third from close range in the 58th minute, and De Paula made amends for his miss earlier after slotting in a penalty kick in the 83rd minute, to rapturous cheers of almost 10,000 fans.
Brunei almost got a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the match but substitute Abd Azizi Ali Rahman’s shot went straight into the arms of national custodian Mohd Khairulazhan Mohd Khalid.
The last time Harimau Malaya played in front of their own supporters was in November 2019 here, when they beat Indonesia, 2-0, in the second round of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Malaysia will continue their warm-up matches ahead of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers at the Bukit Jalil Stadium against Hong Kong on Wednesday (June 1).
The Harimau Malaya squad will then face Turkmenistan on June 8, followed by Bahrain (June 11) and Bangladesh (June 14) in Group E of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers. — Bernama