KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — The national Under 23 (U-23) will return home early from the 2022 U-23 Asian Cup in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as they lost 0-3 to Thailand in the second match of Group C yesterday.
The second consecutive defeat suffered by Brad Maloney’s men after being thrashed 1-4 by defending champions, South Korea, on Thursday, dashed their chances of repeating their best performance in 2018 when they qualified for the quarterfinals.
Malaysia almost stunned Thailand early on when team captain Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi shot went slightly off the left post in the third minute, while Nik Akif Syahiran Nik Mat’s attempt went right into the arms of Nopphon Lakhonphon a minute later.
But as the game went on, the Harimau Muda seemingly ran out of ideas getting past the War Elephant’s defence and were punished in the 23rd minute through the opening goal of the match from striker Suphanat Mueanta.
Mueanta, who cleverly got past the offside trap to complete Channarong Promsrikaew’s long pass, fired a right-footed shot that deflected off Harith Haiqal before entering the net.
Thailand upped the tempo of their game in the second half while Malaysia continued to struggle even as Maloney brought on Mohd Aiman Afif Md Afizul and Japanese club player Muhammad Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak to try to change the game.
Malaysia’s best chance came in the 60th minute through Hadi Fayyadh, but he failed to take advantage of a one-on-one situation with Lakhonphon.
It was a miss to rue, as Promsrikaew, who was left unmarked, easily slotted in a pass from the right by Nicholas Mickelson to double the lead for Thailand in the 69th minute.
Mueanta then calmly put in his second goal after receiving a pass from Oxford United player Benjamin Davies four minutes later.
The forward almost scored a hat-trick, but his volley hit the woodwork in the 81st minute.
Meanwhile, Vietnam bounced back from behind to hold South Korea 1-1 in another Group C action.
Thailand overtook South Korea to lead Group C on goal difference with four points, followed by Vietnam with two points and Malaysia at the bottom without a point. — AFP