KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia came back from two goals down to eke out a respectable 2-2 draw with Syria in their Teir 1 international friendly match in Chengdu, China this evening, preserving their unbeaten 5-match run in international friendlies that began in March.
A second half resurgence by the Malaysian team at the East-Town Football Park Stadium culminated in two goals by substitutes Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid and Darren Lok as Kim Pan Gon’s (pix) charges did their best to make up for the two goal deficit in the first half.
Playing away for the first time since January, 136th ranked Malaysia were undaunted by their higher ranked rivals, 94th placed Syria, as both teams displayed attacking play in the first half.
Luck was on Syria’s side though, as Mardek Mrdkian unleashed a blistering shot in the 12th minute that was on target after midfielder Brendan Gan was late in clearing the ball. The Malaysians tried to equalise, but several attempts, Corbin Ong in the 15th and Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim in the 28th, were saved by Syrian goalkeeper Ahmad Madanieh.
The Middle East team then scored their second goal in the 41st minute through Yasin Alsamya’s header, after he slipped past Corbin’s marking to jump high and sending in the ball off a corner kick by teammate Mahmoud Al Mawas.
Pan Gon made full use of the number of substitutions allowed in friendlies in the second half, bringing in six new pairs of legs to ensure that the team’s momentum would not drop. The move paid off in the 51st minute, when Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) winger Muhammad Akhyar, who came on replacing Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi, managed to beat the offside trap and scored off a long pass from Endrik Dos Santos.
Other players such as Mohamad Faisal, Darren and Matthew Davies all had their chances to get on the scoresheet only to slip up in front of goal.
Darren was on target in the 85th minute, however, managing to pounce on a rebound from a shot by Muhammad Safawi Rasid that was deflected by Syrian substitute keeper Taha Mousa.
Malaysia’s draw ensures that the team’s unbeaten run this year remains unbroken, having notched up for successive wins in friendly matches against Turkmenistan, Hong Kong, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea after losing 0-3 to Thailand in the semi finals of the 2022 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup in January.
They will go against hosts China in the other Tier 1 international friendly match at Phoenix Hill Stadium, Chengdu this Saturday. –Bernama