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2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, AFC Asian Cup Qualifying - Group Stage
  • Muhammad Safawi (84')
  • Ju Song Kim (15', 20', 44')
  • Pak Kwang-Ryong (79')

Malaysia out of 2019 AFC Asian Cup contention after North Korea defeat

Malaysia are officially out of contention for a place at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after North Korean striker Kim Yu-song's first half hat trick helped his side to another 4-1 win over Nelo Vingada's side in Group B.

The Koreans had beaten the same opponents by the same scoreline four days earlier, and Pak Kwang-ryong added a fourth for North Korea before Safawi Rasid grabbed a late consolation.

Head coach Vingada stunned the Malaysian fans by making eight changes from the lineup that started in Friday's 4-1 defeat, with not a single player from champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) selected.

Even skipper Safiq Rahim was left out, despite Vingada having previously vowed to bring him back after a one-game ban. Adam Nor and Khairil Anuar were both handed their international debuts as Malaysia appeared to be looking to the future rather than going all-out for a win that could lead to a very unlikely qualification.

With Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (TMJ) set to meet Technical Director Peter De Roo to discuss the direction of the national team, the failure of Vingada to win any of his seven games in charge will surely be high on the agenda

It took six minutes to see the first effort on goal as Pak's dipping 25-yard free kick cleared Hafizul Hakim's crossbar.

It was clear that Malaysia's youthful side had been instructed to offer a more physical challenge against a team that had overpowered them on Friday, and there were some robust challenges in the early stages.

But Malaysia's gameplan came unstuck as early as the 15th minute when Jong Il-gwan's corner from the left was glanced home by Kim. It was almost a carbon copy of the North Koreans' second strike on Friday, suggesting lessons had not been learned.

Just five minutes later, another corner led to the second goal. Jong took a corner from the right this time and Pak flicked the ball on for Kim to volley home from close range.

Malaysia managed to exert a little pressure around the half-mark as Ri Myong-guk was called upon to deal with a free kick and then a corner, but they were comfortable saves.

They finally had an effort on target in the 39th minute, but Khairil's header from Amirul Azhan's deep cross lacked the power to trouble the North Korea keeper.

Only a sliding block from Adam Nor then prevented a third goal from the Koreans when Pak was through on goal.

But it merely delayed the third strike as Kim completed his hat trick on the stroke of half-time. Sim Hyon-jin's low cross from the left evaded the Malaysia defence, and the striker angled home a shot from 12 yards that Hafizul could perhaps have kept out.

Safiq and Fadhli Shas were introduced for Malaysia at half-time in order to try and steady the ship with their experience.

There was a pedestrian start to the second period, with several stoppages for fouls and injuries. When Malaysia finally got into a promising position as Nazrul Naim broke down the left in the 68th minute, the referee blew for a push.

The North Koreans responded and added to Malaysian misery with a fourth goal in the 79th minute. Ri Un-chol broke clear down the right and cut the ball back into the path of Pak, who tapped it into an empty net.

Safawi Rasid had Malaysia's best effort of the half when he tested Ri with a shot from the edge of the box.

In the 85th minute, he went one better when he ran on to Nor Azam's through ball and fired home decisively. But it was another straightforward win for the North Koreans, and another night of misery for the Harimau Malaya.

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