Five things we learnt from Malaysia’s narrow win over Fiji

Vijhay Vick

Malaysia huffed and puffed to a 1-0 win over Fiji on Wednesday. It was their second win in a row but plenty of work remain for Tan Cheng Hoe’s men, including winning the fans back.

Where are the fans?

It was a good thing Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) decided to play at Cheras Stadium instead of their home in Bukit Jalil.

Just 4,970 tickets were sold!

Perhaps FAM could consider playing in an even smaller stadium next time to ensure there is a better feel to it. Psychologically, seeing more fans than empty seats could inspire the players too.

Attendance at stadiums have been on a slide in recent months, some pointing to the World Cup as an excuse. There was no World Cup match on Wednesday.

Missing Zaquan

The fans were not the only missing ones, Malaysia’s top goal-getter this year had the same dilemma.

Malaysia hit seven past Bhutan in their previous match and the key difference was the presence of Kuala Lumpur’s Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak. Syafiq Ahmad scored the only goal of the night but he was hauled off halfway through the first half.

He was left on the bench for Malaysia’s return to his domestic side home ground after training separately in the lead up to the game.

Zaquan scored four against Bhutan last time out and looking at the way Harimau Malaya struggled to find the back of the net against Fiji, the veteran forward could be back soon. 

Final third

Zaquan’s absence meant a void in the frontline. Syafiq seemed to be getting into spaces well and the 20th minute winner was a result of his movement in the box (and Nazmi Faiz Mansor’s splitting pass).

Yet he was forced off several minutes later and Malaysia turned to debutant Shafiq Shaharudin.

It was perhaps too much on the youngsters shoulder as the hosts struggled to find their footing in the front or even create a decent number of chances.

We should have been better

Tan Cheng Hoe admitted the frontline wasn’t effective, but Malaysia have other areas to work on as well.

The likes of Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Akram Mahinan and many more have fared reasonably okay in the past couple of matches, but their opponents were Bhutan and Fiji.

Granted there were few absentees because of club commitments in the FA Cup, but Malaysia really need to up the ante in the coming matches.

At least, it was a win

Malaysia went the entire 2017 without a win and they have now won two in a row.

The last time Malaysia won back-to-back matches was in November, where they played Papua New Guinea in a friendly and Cambodia in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The win over Cambodia was also the last Malaysia won a match before defeating Bhutan in March.

Photo: FAM