Woeful hosts Malaysia demolished by Palestine in World Cup qualifier
A woeful Malaysia suffered a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Palestine at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday night, leaving their 2018 World Cup Group A qualifying campaign in tatters after just two games.
Some calamitous defending from the home side allowed Sameh Maraaba and Tamer Seyam to grab a brace apiece, with Musab Battat and substitute Khader Yousef completing the rout.
Having conceded a 93rd minute equaliser in last week's 1-1 draw against Timor-Leste in their opening qualifier, Harimau Malaya were desperate to grab all three points against the Palestinians.
But they were second best throughout to leave them bottom of Group A, with matches against Asian heavyweights United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia up next in September.
Following such a disappointing start to a campaign that doubles as qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup, questions must also be asked of Malaysian coach Dollah Salleh.
Dollah had publicly targeted consecutive home victories to commence the World Cup qualifying campaign, yet now finds himself without a win since December dating back to the second leg of the Suzuki Cup final defeat to Thailand.
Despite a population of less than five million, Palestine came into the clash ranked 118th by FIFA, 44 places above Malaysia.
The Palestinians have made great strides in recent times, qualifying for their first Asian Cup earlier this year. They were also coming off a tough loss in Saudi Arabia last week, only succumbing 3-2 following a 94th minute winner from the home side.
But they bounced back in emphatic style on Tuesday night to keep pace with the leaders in Group A.
For Malaysia, it is their second 6-0 loss in their past four fixtures, losing by the same score to Oman in March.
Dollah had rung the changes from the match against Timor-Leste, with Selangor striker Afiq Azmi named to lead the line ahead of Safee Sali, while Farizal Marlias replaced Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in goal.
Palestine fired the first warning shot in just the second minute, Seyam showing pace and brute strength to create space on the left before sending the game's opening attempt over the bar.
Seven minutes later Palestine opened the scoring via a scintillating Battat strike, although he had capitalised on some terribly lax Malaysian defending.
From a corner, Farizal's short punched clearance landed at Battat's feet and he laid it off for Pablo Bravo. Bravo calmly returned possession and Battat had all the time in the world to bury the chance from 18 yards.
Malaysia's only real opening came in the 13th minute, when Amri Yahya spun on the edge of the box and had his shot tipped over the bar by Palestine keeper Tawfiq Abuhammad.
Seyam came close to Palestine's second with a sweet volley in the 21st minute, just seconds before the visitors doubled their lead with a goal of consummate ease.
Seyam found Matias Hadwa, who simply fed the overlapping Maraaba, who was all alone for a tap-in into an empty net.
Seyam then got on the score sheet himself with the pick of the first half goals. Gaining possession on the left about 45 yards out, he ghosted past three defenders before placing a first-time shot past Farizal as the torment continued for the home side.
Harimau Malaya showed a little more fight early in the second half, but it was the home side picking the ball out of the net once more following more impressive skill from Hadwa in the 69th minute.
Leaving two defenders in his wake, Hadwa's cross gave Yousef a tap-in header from close range.
Maraaba then grabbed his brace with a well-placed header with 15 minutes remaining before Seyam followed suit as Palestine sealed their biggest ever international victory.