PETALING JAYA: It was not meant to be as Malaysia went down 1-2 to Vietnam in the World Cup 2022-Asian Cup 2023 second-round qualifiers at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Saturday.
With the second defeat in Group G, Harimau Malaya are now out of the World Cup contention. They lost 0-4 to United Arab Emirates last week.
It was a do-or-die mission for Malaysia but it was the Golden Dragons who showed more aggression from the start and were rewarded with their opening goal in the 27th minute through Nguyen Tien Linh via a measured header.
The tempo picked up pace in the second half and this time, it was Malaysia who found the net when they equalised in the 72nd minute through a penalty by striker Guilherme De Paula.
Vietnam’s leftback Doan Van Hau had fouled De Paula in the penalty box, and the naturalised player, who came under fire for below par performance against UAE, redeemed himself by scoring past goalkeeper Bui Truong Tan.
Vietnam also earned a penalty in the 82 minute and captain Que Ngoc Hoi duly delivered by scoring the second and winning goal. The penalty was awarded to Vietnam after Brendan Gan was found guilty for clipping the heels of Nguyen Van Toan.
Malaysia remained fourth with nine points while Vietnam maintained at the top spot with 17 points.
Vietnam look likely to be one of the 12 teams to qualify automatically for the Asian Cup.
The quest for Malaysia in the Asian Cup 2023 however is not over as they can get into the tournament via the Asian Cup qualifying third round.