International Friendly | Malaysia 2 Manchester United 3
Amri Yahya brace was not enough to hold United to a surprise draw
Three Negri Sembilan players, Zaquan Razak, Aidil Razak and S. Kunalan including two ex-Negri youngsters, Norhafiz Zamani and Nor Shahrul Idlan Talaha were on the team sheet in a friendly match between Malaysia and Manchester United this afternoon.
The match is the first instalment in the Red Devils’ Asian tour to prepare for their new season before the squad embarked for Jakarta, Seoul and China.
Manchester United squad is back in Kuala Lumpur for the first time since their cancelled trip two years ago in a match what was suppose to celebrate the 50 years independence of Malaysian federation due to the clash with the on-going AFC cup.
Despite almost 100% humidity and temperature soaring to high-30s degree Celsius, the 100k seating stadium was packed with Manchester United fans to see their idols.
This will certainly go down in Malaysian history as one of the highest attendance football match in the country-something that you will never see in our local stadiums let alone in other international matches.
Manchester United in their new home kit did not disappoint their fans and Football Association of Malaysia by fielding their strongest line up to face our young squad.
Both team started nervously and struggled to find their rhythms on the ball with Manchester United enjoying all the possession in the first-half.
Bulgarian forward, Dimitiar Berbatov tested keeper, Farizal Marlias in the early minute of the 5th, forcing him to tip aside the long shot on goal. Since then on, the home team showed too much respect to the English champion as the Red Devils began to pile pressure on Malaysia’s back four.
Wayne Rooney scored United first goal on the 9th minute off an easy tap-in after the Perlis keeper failed to parry Berbatov’s shot on target. The mayhem in front of Malaysia goal started when Aidil Razak’s weak clearance of a cross by Darren Gibson only for the ball to fall on Berbatov’s feet.
Rajagopal’s team looked out of depth against the English side when S. Kunalan, Zaquan Razak, Indraputra Mahyuddin and Amri Yahya were kept on being frustrated by United’s defence led by Rio Ferdinand. They appeared to have very little choices but having to resort to cheap shots from outside of the penalty box.
Mancunians doubled their lead in the 27th minute of the first half and this time Wayne Rooney footwork confuses Malaysia defence to provide a through pass for Nani who easily slot the ball in pass Farizal Marlias.
Just when everyone was writing Malaysia off after United’s second goal, Amri Yahya the Selangor captain, found Edwin Van Der Sar’s net from 40 yards after beautifully chested down a long goal kick right before the break.
The goal seems to install a lot of beliefs in the young side of Malaysia when they rose from the break and started to take charge in the middle of the park and enjoyed plenty of possessions in the second half.
Their confident play and positive approach was proven fruitful when Amri Yahya grabbed his second on the 53th minute after he capitalised Ben Foster’s clumsy footwork when dealing Gibson’s back pass to send Harimau Malaya fans in ecstasy.
For a large period in the second half, Malaysia was comfortable on the ball with S. Kunalan enjoying a little more space than he had in the first half but they were soon woken up from the dreamland by United’s new signing, Michael Owen.
The fading striker came on the 65th minute to replace Wayne Rooney and looked keen to prove his critiques wrong by showing his quick reaction and scored a late winner from a well worked through ball.
Sir Alex Ferguson was saved from an embarrassment from our National team in this hot and humid afternoon but his side will be very unlikely to let it happen again in the ad-hoc rematch this Monday following the bombings in Jakarta.
This decision will be largely welcomed by United’s fans but it means that local teams will be compromised for their league games on Tuesday but no-one would really care about that.
Least not the glory hunter.