Malaysia fail to fire once again, held to disappointing draw by Myanmar
Malaysia warmed up for June's crucial 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers with a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Myanmar in Yangon on Saturday evening.
Looking to erase bad memories of the same result against tiny Macau in March, the toothless Tigers struggled in the final third against the slick co-hosts of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup. The stalemate means that they are still looking for a first goal in 2016 after three games.
For Ong Kim Swee, the real action takes place against Timor Leste on June 2 and 6. But the coach, still without a win since landing the job on a permanent basis, will be concerned about the lack of firepower.
Not many opportunities were created and the ones that did come Malaysia's way were mostly half-chances at best. It could have been worse. For much of the 90 minutes Myanmar looked to be the better team in terms of attacking though Gerd Zeise's easy on the eye passing style just could not produce a goal, either.
With a 4-3-3 formation in place, the visitors started brightly with Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul turning to shoot into the side netting and then Amri Yahyah heading over from a Junior Eldstal cross all within the first few minutes.
Soon though, Myanmar were starting to move the ball around well and passing through a nervous-looking Malaysian backline in which Fazly Mazlan was an impressive performer.
The hosts continued to probe in the final third but just could not find the killer pass until the half hour. Aung Thu sprinted clear of Malaysia's backline, squared the ball to Kyaw Ko Ko on the edge of the area only for the Yangon United striker to shoot just wide though some late attention from S. Kunanlan may have made a difference.
It seemed to sting the visitors into action as shortly after. Eldstal lifted a pass over the Myanmar defence into the path of Amirul Hadi. The ball would not quite fall quickly enough and the Johor Darul Ta'zim star had to wait before seeing his shot from the outside the right corner of the six-yard box well saved by Pyae Phyo Aung. It was perhaps Malaysia's best chance.
The hosts continued to ask most of the questions in the second half and on the hour substitute Than Paing had the ball in the net, but illegally so.
In the final stages, Malaysia started to put the hosts under a little more pressure with attacking substitutes such as S. Chanturu and teenager S. Kumaahran running at defenders though once again, the final ball could have been better.
Khair Jefri Jones, playing with Melaka in the second tier Malaysia Premier League, also impressed on the left after his second-half introduction.
There was some encouragement for the coach then as some younger players added a spring to the step of a leaden attack but the history books will show once again that Malaysia failed to score.
Malaysia: Izham; Kunanlan, Aidil, Shahrom, Fazly (Jefri Jones 72'); Amirulhadi (Zaquan 68'), Eldstal (Amirul Hisyam 54'), Baddrol; Azrif (Chanturu 54'), Hazwan (Kumaahran 66'), Amri (Christie Jayaseelan 53')
Myanmar: Pyae Phyo Aung; Aung Zaw, Htan, Yan Aung Kyaw, Ye Ko Oo (Hlaing Bo Bo 90'), Aung Thu, Kyaw Ko Ko (Than Paing 46'), Myo Ko Tun, Phyo Ko Ko Thein, Hein Thiha Zaw, Mo Mo Lwin (Suan Lam Maung 46')