* The Star Online reproduces the April 7, 1980 article written by George Jayaraj in The Star.
Goal in 87th min sees us through
MALAYSIA 2 SOUTH KOREA 1
Hail King James, He did it again last night to get Malaysia in the Olympic soccer competition for the second time since 1972 Munich Games.
James Wong struck home three minutes before the time, giving Malaysia the winner after they had weathered a surprisingly improved Korean onslaught.
It was another superb display by James who had earlier played a vital part by putting in the first goal as early as the eighth-minute and steered Malaysia to an impressive 3-0 win over Korea in the preliminary round.
But last night, the Malaysians were nowhere compared to that first meeting. They lost pace and control to the Koreans and struggled and scrambled desperately in defence.
This display saw the Koreans on top with the midfield duo of Cho Kwang Nae and King Kang Nam taking full control.
And out of it, Kang Nam found the equaliser for the Koreans in the 58th minute.
He started the move himself in the middle, laying the ball on for Park Sang In who made a quick return and in a flash Kang Nam came in perfectly to strike home.
His shot was well placed into the top right corner and despite goalkeeper R. Arumugam trying his best, he could only manage to reach it with his fingertips and the ball hit the post before entering the net.
They were not in the least intimidated by the capacity 40,000 crowd rooting solidly for Malaysia who had taken the lead in the 13th minute.
Frankly, no one saw it as a goal which came off Bakri Ibni. The midfielder himself just walked away cooly outside the field when his attempt into goal came out just as quickly.
But Burmese linesman Maung Maung apparently spotted the ball go behind the goalline and Kuwait referee Abdulwahab Albanni pointed immediately to the centre for the restart.
One would have expected that goal to spur on the Malaysians but it turned out otherwise.
The Malaysians left big gaps in the middle. Shukor Salleh wasn’t himself after he took a knock early in the game and despite treatment, he was fighting a losing battle and had to be replaced by Abdah Alif in the second half.
Shukor’s weakness should have seen the other midfielders, particularly Khalid Ali doubling his efforts. But only Bakri remained the only one to give the team some midfield control.
Khalid Ali was nowhere in the game. It was so frustrating to see Khalid not fighting at all and he was a pale shadow of the player who was the scourge of the Koreans in the first battle.
Khalid had little urgency in his game and practically made it all the more easier for the Koreans. There were times when he presented the ball to the Koreans and looked the 12th man in the Korean’s side.
And when Malaysia were reeling under severe pressure, Khalid added more fright with his weak clearances.
Luckily for some fine defensive work by captain Soh Chin Aun and Arumugam and the Korean lack of a good finisher, the Malaysians survived their deep defensive play in the second half.
Malaysia had only a quarter of the Korea offensives but James did not let them down at any time when the ball was directed to him.
His shielding the ball and then taking on the defence all by himself was the hallmark of his game. And every time he moved forward, the Korean defence shuddered and once he was brutally brought down by Lee Jang Soo, who escaped the yellow card.
It was from one of these rare breakaways that the Malaysians from deep defence went on to get the winner from James.
But just as brilliant as James who nicked in the goal after sidestepping Korean goalkeeper Kim Wang Ho and coolly placing the ball into the net, was Hassan Sani.
Hassan was equally as good when he took the ball from the middle and after running the length, beat the Korean defenders Cho Jeung and Lee Jang Soo and unselfishly laid the ball to an unmarked James.
R. Arumugam, Jamal Nasir, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh,Kamaruddin Abdullah, Khalid Ali, Shukor Salleh (Abdah Alif), Bakri Ibni, Abdullah Ali, James Wong, Hassan Sani.
Kim Whang Ho, Choi Jung Duck, Cho Young Jeung, Lee Jang Soo, Kim Hong Joo, Cho Kwang Nae, Park Sang In, Kim Kang Nam, Shin Hyun Ho (Lee Young Moo), Huh Jung Moo, Chung Hae Wong.
‘It was an electrifying night’