AFF Suzuki Cup Group B: Malaysia, Vietnam record opening victories
Both games took place at the Bishan Stadium, with Malaysia beating Cambodia 3-1, while Vietnam beat Laos 2-0.
Matchday 1 of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 Group saw Malaysia and reigning champions Vietnam record victories.
Malaysia kicked off their campaign with a hard fought 3-1 win over Cambodia. Although the Cambodians ranked 16 places below Malaysia in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings, they were bold going forward and pressed relentlessly against the Malaysians.
The Malaysians, on the other hand, looked lethargic throughout the game and had to rely on individual inspiration from left winger Akyar Rashid to lead them to the three points.
The 22-year-old Johor Darul Ta’zim player won a penalty, which Safawi Rasid converted, in the 23rd minute and doubled Malaysia’s lead in the 60th minute after scoring on the counter-attack.
Harimau Malaya added a third in the 79th minute through Kogileswaran Raj, before Cambodia scored a consolation through Sath Rosib from the penalty spot.
The other Group B encounter saw the defending champions, Vietnam, take on a Laos side coached by former Singapore national V. Selvaraj.
Cheered on by the raucous Vietnamese contingent, who mainly made up the 812 fans in attendance at Bishan Stadium, Vietnam took the lead in the 26th minute when striker Nguyen Cong Phuong swept in the ball from close range.
They doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half when winger Phan van Duc headed in a cross from right back Ho Tan Tai.
Vietnam controlled the game with their pinpoint passing, tiring out the Laos team before their individual quality resulted in the clinical finishing that gave them all three points.
The results mean that Malaysia top the group, courtesy of their superior goals scored record, while Vietnam sit in second, both teams on three points each.
Malaysia are next in action on Dec 9 against Laos in the early kick off, while Cambodia will take on Indonesia on the same day for the later fixture.