KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia got off to a flying start in the Asian Games football competition.
Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s men played well to beat Kyrgyzstan 3-1 in the Group E match at the Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung yesterday.
Strikers Safawi Rasid, Muhd Akhyar Abdul Rashid and Muhd Syafiq Ahmad were the speed demons for Malaysia and they gave Kyrgyzstan defence a torrid time.
Malaysia went on the offensive from the start and they were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after Kyrgyzstan skipper Tamirlan Kozubaev brought down Muhd Akhyar in the box.
Safawi made no mistake from the penalty spot to give Malaysia the lead.
Kyrgyzstan, however, equalised in the 55th minute after the Malaysian defence were caught napping as Ernist Batyrkanov headed in the ball from close range.
The equaliser was a wake up call for Kim Swee’s men as they regained the lead in the 61st minute.
Akhyar Rashid scored from inside the penalty box off a cross from Safawi.
In the 75th minute Adib Zainuddin replaced injured defender Dominic Tan. But Malaysia kept up the pressure and they increased the lead in the 78th minute.
Syafiq Ahmad heads in from close range off a cross, again by Safawi.
Kim Swee said that it was a good result for them.
“But performance wise it was not too good as I believe that my men can play much better. I hope that my players would play much better in the second match against defending champions South Korea on Friday.
“After taking the 1-0 lead, the opponents came back strongly and they managed to get an equaliser due to poor defending,” said Kim Swee.
Safawi said he was happy that they collected full points.
“But there are few things that we need to improve. We need to rectify our mistakes we made today as we have a tough match against the Koreans,” said Safawi.
Malaysia will wrap up their group fixtures against Bahrain on Aug 20.