PETALING JAYA: What a relief!
Malaysia fought back from a goal down to edge unheralded New Caledonia 2-1 in the second match of their Tour of Oceania at the Stade Numa Daly in Noumea on Wednesday.
World No. 183 New Caledonia led through a Jean-Philippe Saiko goal in the 20th minute.
But the national team turned on the heat after the break to avoid a second consecutive defeat to a lower-ranked side when Mohd Amirul Hadi Zainal (48th) and Baddrol Bakhtiar (54th) saved the blushes with well-taken goals.
Last Friday, world No. 173 Malaysia were beaten 2-0 by world No. 193 Papua New Guinea at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.
Malaysia were fortunate to hold on for victory as they were reduced to 10 men after winger Azrif Nasrulhaq was sent off for a second bookable offence for delaying the game in the 82nd minute.
The home team then lost a man too when Georges Bearune was given the marching orders two minutes from time.
National coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee said that the “home side had made things difficult for us” after leading 1-0.
“My players responded positively in the second half and we were rewarded with the two goals. I hope they have learned a thing or two from the matches,” he said.
Malaysia will wrap up their playing tour against Fiji (world No. 186) on Sunday. The tour is part of their preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup from Nov 19-Dec 17.