Malaysia’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign got off to a rather miserable start after being held to a scoreless draw by Malaysia were reduced to 10 men mid-way through the first half but battled bravely to a 0-0 draw against Myanmar in the opening Group B match in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Sunday.
The two teams shared the points at Jalan Besar Stadium in an evenly matched game with chances at both ends.
Malaysia came away feeling relieved and slightly more upbeat after being able to stay in the game despite the first-half dismissal of Gary Steven Robbat..
“I am very proud of the players, they gave 100 percent and played to a draw. We should have got three points. We were disciplined in our defending and tried to get them on the counter attack,” said Malaysian coach Dollah Salleh.
“It is going to be tough now as we meet Thailand and Singapore. We will have to give 200 per cent.
Lightning caused the match to be delayed by one hour and it struck again for Malaysia in the 35th minute when Robbat saw red after being booked for a second time.
“In competitions like this the first game is very hard. This was a good Malaysian side who have done well in the SEA Games and AFF Suzuki Cup. They have a lot of experience,” said Raddy Avramovic, the Myanmar coach.
“I am happy how our players approached the game but a little disappointed. Sometimes if your opponents are one man down it can be dangerous as you can relax too much and get lazy.”
The first half was an evenly-matched affair.
Malaysia netted in the sixth minute when Amri Yahyah was put through the middle but he was adjudged off side.
Two minutes later Myanmar’s Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit had a great opportunity to score when from close range he had a free header but he nodded the ball over the crossbar.
Malaysian Afif Amiruddin had a similar chance just after the half-hour mark but also glanced the ball over the bar.
Malaysia’s chances of winning the match then took a serious turn for the worse when their midfield general Robbat was sent off for a second yellow card after a clumsy tackle.
Despite being a man down Malaysia held their own and Azammuddin Akil shot wide of the post just before half time when he followed up on a free kick that goalkeeper Thiha Si Thu failed to save.
The Myanmar keeper made amends for that in injury time when he produced a fine save to his left and cleared the ball off the line following a free kick by Mahalli Jasuli from just outside the box.
It was again end to end action in the second half.
Malaysian Norsharul Idlan Talaha came close when received the ball in the box and had a chance to score but could not control the ball before it was cleared by a defender in the 58th minute.
Ten minutes later Kyaw Chit missed one of the best opportunities of the game when he followed up on shot that was steered away by the keeper. From close range he should have scored but the keeper was able to make a fine save.
With 15 minutes to go Norsharul had another chance and was inches away from getting onto the end of a ball into middle of box.
Malaysian keeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat kept his side in the game when with five minutes to go when he blocked a close range shot from Aung Zaw and then another from Kyaw Zayar Win.
With the clock counting down Myanmar pushed hard for the winner but to no avail and much to the disappointment of the many Myanmar supporters who considerably outnumbered their opposing fans.