Malaysia 2 Indonesia 0
Kuala Lumpur – Defending champions Malaysia booked their place in the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup and sent Indonesia crashing out of the competition with a 2-0 win over their arch-rivals at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday night.
Goals by Azamuddin Akil and Mahalli Jasuli in a three-minute spell in the first half gave the Harimau Malaya the three points which sent them through to the last four as Group B runners-up behind Singapore, who came from two goals down to beat Laos 4-3 at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Mahalli set up the opening goal in the 27th minute when his deep cross was volleyed home by Azamuddin from close range and the right-winger then found the net himself three minutes later, when he blasted in a rising shot after an excellent lay-off by Wan Zack Haikal Ran Nor.
Malaysia will now meet Group A winners Thailand in the semi-finals with the first leg in Kuala Lumpur next Sunday. Singapore, who finished ahead of Malaysia on goal difference, will visit Manila a day earlier to face Philippines in the other semi-final.
“It was a tough match even though we started off brightly and got the two quick goals, which were important for us,” said Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal.
“Even after those goals, Indonesia were still playing with tempo and coming at us so we had to make changes and tighten things up so it was not an easy won.
“Now we will see how we will do against Thailand. They are a very strong team but we have nothing to lose. The most important thing is for our players to get one or two days rest and come back recharged to play against Thailand.”
Malaysia made two changes to their starting line side from the side that beat Laos 4-1 on Wednesday with Zubir Azmi replacing Azmi Muslim at left-back and Azamuddin coming in for S. Kunanlan who was ruled out with a groin injury.
Indonesia also made two changes from the side which beat Singapore 1-0 with Nopendi taking over from the suspended Wahyu Wijiastanto in defence and Samsul Arif replacing Rachmat Syamsuddin Leo in attack.
Indonesia had the better of the early openings with the lively Samsul firing just over the crossbar in the third minute and Irfan Bachdim forcing an excellent save out of goalkeeper Farizal Marlias with a left-footed drive in the 18th minute.
Malaysia took time to settle down in the steady drizzle with their first real opportunity coming in the 23rd minute when Norshahrul Idlan Talaha weaved his way through the Indonesia defence before the ball broke to Safiq Rahim whose weak shot was blocked by the massed Indonesian defence.
However, the deadlock would be broken just four minutes later. Mahalli received the ball on the right flank and floated in an excellent cross that was met in the six-yard box by Azamuddin who crashed a volley into the back of the net.
The goal ignited the majority of the fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium and they were in absolute bedlam when the home side extended their lead three minutes later.
Wan Zack received the ball in space on the right of the Indonesia box and he held up the ball in front of defender Fachrudin Aryanto before he laid it off for the overlapping Mahalli who blasted the ball into the top corner of the net from a narrow angle.
Winger Andik Vermansah came on to replace skipper Elie Aiboy as Indonesia tried to find their way back into the game but it was Malaysia who went closer to scoring against before the break as Wan Zack’s dipping shot flew just over the crossbar.
Indonesia were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position at the start of the second half but Vendry Mofu squandered the opportunity as he ballooned the ball over the crossbar.
It would be one of the few opportunities that would present itself to the visitors despite Tonnie Cusell and Jhonnie van Beukering being brought on to replace Oktovianus Maniani and Samsul.
Instead it was the Malaysians who had the better opportunities to extend their lead as Safee looped a header over and Wan Zack fired a shot from the right flank narrowly wide.
With 10 minutes left, Indonesia were awarded a free-kick near the right touchline. Taufiq swung it into the six-yard box where it was met by Raphael Maitimo but the big defender headed over.
They had another opportunity to cut the deficit in the final minute when Andik cut inside but his rising shot flew over the crossbar as Indonesia’s last chance went begging.
“This result was not good for us even though I thought that we had more hunger in our attacking today,” said Indonesia coach Nil Maizar.
“My players today showed good motivation and fighting spirit and they had chances but we could not score.”