Football: Azam and Thanabalan execute coach’s instruction well to turn the game around | The Star Online


Azam and Thanabalan execute coach’s instruction well to turn the game around

SUPER subs Muhd Nor Azam Abdul Azih (pic) and N. Thanabalan were thrown into the deep end in the second half of Malaysia’s Group A match against Singapore with one instruction: to press high and get a quick goal to launch a fightback.

National Under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee had unleashed the duo in a desperate bid to turn around the match after Singapore had taken a 1-0 lead through midfielder Amiruldin Mohd Nodin in the 37th minute.

And the duo carried out his instructions perfectly, rescuing Malaysia by scoring in the 67th and 73rd minutes for a 2-1 win in front of 40,000 fans at the Shah Alam Stadium on Wednesday.

Midfielder Azam, who scored the equaliser, said his instruction from the coach was to mount pressure on their opponents high up and to find the net.

“We were told to be more direct in our attack and I think all the players understood what the coach wanted us to do. We really pushed hard to breach the Singapore defence. I saw the opening and I took my chance. I guess it’s my rezeki to score. I’m glad that the goal came at the right time as it sparked our comeback,” said the 22-year-old Pahang player.

Then came the winner.

Nippy striker Thanabalan got the winning goal to give Malaysia their second straight win in the group.

“I was worried that I might miss the SEA Games due to my injury (knee). I was raring to go after missing our opening match (2-1 win over Brunei),” said Thanabalan, who plays for FAM Cup side Felcra.

“The team needed help and I’m happy I got the winner. My target is to help the team reach the final. If I can’t score, I’ll be happy to provide an assist.

“We have a few days’ break before our next game – against Myanmar. We will get back to training and rectify our mistakes. I’m confident we’ll get better.”

See our full coverage of SEA Games 2017