Malaysia vs Thailand Player Ratings

Malaysia and Thailand played out a thrilling 1-1 draw in the first leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final on Sunday evening at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Safiq gracefully glides past a challenge.

By ESPNSTAR.com staff

In what was arguably the tournament's best game so far, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha opened the scoring in the 48th minute when he glanced a header into the bottom corner, after great work down the right by Mahalli Jasuli.

However, the War Elephants hit back 11 minutes from time when Piyaphon Buntao's excellent cross was powered home by Teerasil Dangda.

Here, ESPNSTAR.com takes a look at the movers and shakers from Sunday's game in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia

Farizal Marlias - 7.5

Given how the Perak man is playing at the moment, it will take a lot for Khairul Fahmi to reclaim his place as Harimau Malaya's number one.

Farizal prevented Thailand from taking the lead in the 11th minute when he made a flying save to keep out a long-range strike from Adul Lahsoh, before repeating the feat in the second half to keep out an equally fierce drive by Apipoo Suntornpanavej.

Mahalli Jasuli - 9

It is remarkable Mahalli did not score the campaign as Malaysia's first-choice right-back, especially given he's now one of their best players on the park, let alone in his position.

The new Selangor signing was strong in the challenge and did not give the usually-dangerous duo of Anucha Kitpongsri and Theerathon Bunmathan any room to manoeuvre in.

Mahalli was also always ready to bomb forward in support and it was his determination to keep the ball in play that led to him charging down the right, and delivering an excellent cross for Norshahrul to head home.

Aidil Zafuan - 8

Although Aidil has been shaky so far in the tournament, he showed why he's generally regarded as the best centre-back in the Malaysia Super League with an authoritative display in the heart of defence.

Fadhli Shas - 7

For the first time in the tournament, the excellent Fadhli was overshadowed by his centre-back partner, but he still put in a good shift and never gave his opponent a spare yards inside the area.

Bunyamin Umar (off 86') - 6.5

Bunyamin, who got the nod from coach K. Rajagobal ahead of Azmi Muslim, had an average outing but didn't look too keen on providing support when his side were on the attack.

Amar Rohidan (off 75') - 6

Given the way Thailand playmaker Datsakorn Thonglao was spraying passes at free will, it's clear how much - or little - effect he had in his role as midfield enforcer.

Gary Robbat - 7

Robbat took awhile to get into the game but once he eventually found his groove, he did well to hold his own against his more-experienced team-mates and opponents.

The Harimau Muda man's strong physique was put to the test as he was constantly clattered into by the opposition players, but he never shied away from a challenge and did a good job in linking up defence to attack.

Azamuddin Akil - 6.5

The Pahang star had a difficult game coming up against Theerathon but while he wasn't that much of a threat going forward, he always dropped back when his team were on the back foot and can be pleased with the effort he showed.

Safiq Rahim - 7

When Safiq is on form, he is capable of carving apart even the best of defences, as he showed shortly after the half-hour mark when two of his set-piece deliveries nearly led to Malaysia goals.

However, he struggles to exert an influence from open play despite his obvious talents, and could really be doing a lot more for his side.

Baddrol Bakhtiar (off 75') - 4

It's rather difficult to rate a player when you didn't notice him for most of the game, but unfortunately for Baddrol, it just was not his night.

He did play in a good cross late in the first half that led to a chance for Norshahrul, but by and large, the Kedah captain was a bystander in this match.

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha - 8.5

Norshahrul finally broke his recent goal drought with a well-taken header in the 48th minute but even without his goal, he had an excellent game as he gave the Thai defenders a real headache.

Chonlatit Jantakam could be forgiven for needing an aspirin at the final whistle given he had spent the last 90 minutes chasing the 26-year-old's shadow.

Substitutes

Safee Sali (on 75') - 6.5

Although he wasn't fully fit to start, Safee was brought on late in the game and had a great chance to steal a win near the death, only for Kawin Thamsatchanan to keep out his point-blank range header with a spectacular save.

S. Kunanlan (on 75') - 6

The speedy winger was brought on with 15 minutes but struggled to get into the game, although he did carve out a shooting chance for Robbat late on with a neat cutback.

Zubir Azmi (on 86') - N/A

Brought on four minutes from time, Zubir had insufficient time to make an impact.

Thailand

Kawin Thamsatchanan - 8

While Thailand spent more than their fair share of games dominating their opponents, it always helps having a capable goalkeeper to rely on, and Kawin certainly did his job on Saturday.

The Muangthong United custodian reacted well to keep out a Safiq freekick in the 34th minute, before producing a stunning stop to tip over Safee's bullet header at the death

Piyaphon Buntao - 7.5

Given Baddrol wasn't exactly posing much of a threat down Malaysia's left flank, Piyaphon took the opportunity to push forward whenever possible and was a good outlet in the final third.

His crossing was slightly disappointing early on, but he made amends in the 79th minute when he floated in an excellent cross for Teerasil to head home.

Panupong Wongsa - 8

Had it not been for the numerous vital interceptions and last-ditch tackles Panupong made, Thailand might have well have found themselves on the losing end.

The 29-year-old read the game with real intelligence and justified coach Winfried Schafer's decision to hand him the captain's armband ahead of the tournament.

Chonlatit Jantakam - 7

Despite being run ragged by Norshahrul, Chonlatit deserves credit for sticking to his task and made a good block to deny his opponent a clear shooting chance at the end of the first half.

Theerathon Bunmathan (off 52') - 5.5

Although he has been one of the best youngsters in the competition so far, the Buriram United man had an evening to forget as he struggled to come to terms with the pace of the game.

Theerathon's passing was sloppy and he was caught ball watching in the build-up to Malaysia's opener.

Adul Lahsoh (off 59') - 6.5

Although he was replaced shortly before the hour mark, Adul had a decent game but was unfortunate to be sacrificed with Schafer looking to inject more creativity into his side.

Pichitpong Choeichiu - 5

Having been a real driving force for the War Elephants in the group stage matches, Pichitpong failed to live up to the lofty standards he has set for himself as he was a peripheral figure for most of the match.

Datsakorn Thonglao (off 76') - 6.5

The classy playmaker got the game off to a sloppy start as he uncharacteristically gave possession away in dangerous positions, although it had to be remembered he only just recovered from an injury that saw him miss the Group A games against Myanmar and Vietnam.

Nonetheless, once Datsakorn got into his groove, he made passes few would even think of, and with a good 75 minutes under his belt, he will be even better in next Thursday's return leg.

Jakkapan Pornsai - 6

Jakkapan failed to pose much of a threat to the Harimau Malaya backline and tried to do too much when he did get the ball.

Anucha Kitpongsri -7

The skilful left winger did reasonably well for Thailand, although he had to track back a lot more than he normally does after Theerathon's miserable display.

Teerasil Dangda - 7.5

Like many of his team-mates, Teerasil took awhile to get going, which was the main reason behind the hosts' dominance in the opening 45.

Still, he rose to the occasion when it mattered the most by equalising for his side in the 79th minute, sending a perfectly-weighted over Farizal's despairing dive and into the top corner.

Substitutes

Sompong Soleb (on 52') - 5.5

The well-built Sompong is very useful in holding up the ball in the final third, but his lack of pace and agility meant he was constantly dispossessed before he could release the ball.

Apipoo Suntornpanavej (on 59') - 6.5

Apipoo showed plenty of energy after coming on and tested Farizal with a vicious drive in the 67th minute.

Kirati Keowsumbat (on 76') - 6

Kirati's introduction as a second striker gave the opposition defence a lot more to think about, and although he didn't get too many scoring chances, he provides an excellent option should Schafer decided to change things around in the second leg.



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