PHNOM PENH: Striker Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak emerged as the national Under-22 (U-22) squad’s savior when his goal in the 86th minute ensured that Malaysia earned a point instead of finishing empty handed for the second time round when they played out a 2-2 draw against Indonesia in the AFF U-22 Championship at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh earlier today (Wednesday).
The result brought some much needed relief for coach Ong Kim Swee as the national U-22 side are still in with a chance of earning one of two spots from Group B to qualify for the semi-finals, though they will have to beat Myanmar in their final group match this Friday.
The injury to R. Kogileswaran and Danial Haqim Draman getting suspended after being sent off for picking up two yellow cards in the first match against hosts Cambodia on Monday saw Kim Swee having to make some changes to the first-eleven for the match against the Indonesians.
K. Thivandaran, Nik Akif Syahiran Nik Mat and Nabil Hakim Bokhari were the three new faces joining the first-eleven with the others being the same set of players who faced Cambodia.
The national side stuck to their usual style of play and as early as the first minute were already threatening when Hadi Fayyadh’s header in the very first minute almost put them ahead but was palmed away by Indonesia goalkeeper Satria Hardiyanto.
Indonesia, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Myanmar in their first group match, almost punished Malaysia in the 39th minute, but the effort by lanky forward Marinus Wanewar went wide with goalkpeeper Haziq Nadzli well beaten.
Three minutes later the Malaysian goalmouth came under threat once more but this time the ball hit the post off a free-kick by Luthfi Kamal Baharsyah much to Haziq’s relief.
Then seven minutes into the second half, Indra Sjafri’s squad took the lead thanks to Marinus touch in the 52nd minute.
Malaysia did not stay behind for long as nine minutes later they drew level in the 61st minute through Nik Akif’s free-kick.
However, Indonesia regained the lead in the 76th minute when substitute Witan Sulaeman unleashed a ferocious strike which a full stretched Haziq could not save.
Malaysia refused to surrender and pushed for forays into the Indonesian half and were duly rewarded when Hadi Fayyadh’s header ensured for a share of the spoils.