(MAS: Thamil Arasu 47’; Rozaimi Abdul Rahman 50’; 90+2’ RYU: Shunta Takahashi 14’)
Malaysia concluded their preparations for the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over Japan Football League outfit FC Ryukyu at the Petaling Jaya Stadium.
As defending champions, Harimau Muda are expected to be legitimate contenders for the gold medal again at the Under-23 tournament, which kicks off in Myanmar this Saturday.
But with his side not in action until their Group A opener against Brunei on December 10, Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee had one final chance to see his charges in action against Ryukyu before naming his final 20-man squad on Thursday.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 14th minute when Shunta Takahashi’s charge out from the back was not picked up by an opposition defender, allowing him to advance on goal and coolly place his shot past Izham Tarmizi.
Eager to add an extra edge to his attack, Ong decided to throw on star forward Rozaimi Abdul Rahman at the break, but it was Thamil Arasu who pulled them level in the 47th minute, meeting K. Reuben’s right-wing cross with a firm header into the top corner.
Three minutes later, Rozaimi did make the desired impact as he gave Harimau Muda the lead; receiving an incisive pass from Nazmi Faiz and exchanging a clever one-two with captain Irfan Fazail before finding the back of the net with an emphatic finish.
Shortly after, Ryukyu had an excellent chance to equalise after a lapse in concentration from the opposition defence but left-back Nazirul Naim came to his side’s rescue, making two outstanding goal-line blocks with both his feet and his head to keep them in front.
And right at the death, the result was put beyond doubt when Rozaimi netted his second of the night to make it 3-1, breaking free down the left and stroking home on the rebound after his initial shot had been saved by Hayashi Shintaro.