Malaysia – Match Report vs Laos (24/12/2022)

Malaysia looked to book a place in the semi-finals of the AFF Mitsubishi cup after winning a comfortable 5-0 win against Laos in their 2nd game of the tournament. Malaysia played a 3-4-3 with both the left and right midfielder pushed high up the pitch, and their wingers dropped deep and were given the license to roam. Malaysia dominated the whole match and didn’t look threatened bar a few surprising chances at the end for Laos. Malaysia found it hard to score in the first half but was relentless as they came up top against Laos’ defence.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Faisal Halim

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Malaysian
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 07/01/1998
  • Club: Selangor FC
  • Career: Penang, Pahang, Terengganu FC, Selangor FC
  • Position: Left Winger
  • Secondary Position: Right Winger, Centre Forward
  • Preferred foot: Right

One of Malaysia’s important players in this tournament, Faisal is the type of player who makes the fans excited whenever he has the ball. The Malaysian forward started as a left winger but was positioned in the left half-space as the game goes on, which then allowed the left full-back Nor Hakim to push higher up the left wing. Whenever Faisal has the ball, he looked threatening as he dances through defenders and made it difficult for them to contain him. Faisal was given the license to roam around and dropped deep to receive and move the ball to get himself involved in the game. He would help his full-backs to track back the opposition to help and regain back possession. 

With his small stature at 5 ft 2, he uses his low centre of gravity and close dribbling to get away from the defenders. His small touches of the ball allowed him to get away from defenders in tight areas. However, at times he overdoes it and loses possession of the ball. Apart from his close dribbling, he has the agility and balance to turn quickly and shrugs off many challenges. The only few ways to stop him is when he over-dribbles or he gets fouled. He’s very quick and accelerates fast to beat his defenders. Not only he’s quick and dribbles impressively, but he’s also an intelligent player who knows how to create and recognise space. 

He scored two goals which both came from headers. Heading isn’t his well-known trait both headers were well-executed. He was left unmarked as positioned himself in the blindside of his defender and guided the ball into the bottom corner from a scrumptious cross by Safawi Rasid. His 2nd header was even more impressive as he managed to generate a powerful header to beat the goalkeeper. He could have scored a hat-trick after dribbling past one defender after another before shooting the ball too high above the goalpost.

Rating – A2

Being one of the exciting players in the Malaysia’s team, he’s expected to play a big part in Malaysia’s journey to win trophies. I won’t be surprised if he moves to a bigger team like Johor Darul Ta’zim, or play in Liga 1 Indonesia, Thai League 1, Japan, and Korea’s top divisions.

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Sharul Nazeem

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Malaysian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 19/11/1999
  • Club: Selangor FC
  • Career: Selangor FC
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Shahrul played as the middle of the back 3. Standing at 1.78m tall, Shahrul isn’t the tallest for a centre half but had a comfortable game against Laos’ forward Ekkamai Ratxachak. The defender dominated the Laos’ forward, winning most of his aerial and ground duels bar some fouls that were given away. He ensured that Ekkamai doesn’t get a chance to have time and space. The Malaysian defender was reliable and have a good reading of the game as he recognise the play and danger early before it could escalate into anything. 

Shahrul was tidy on the ball, playing passes across his centre backs and midfielders. He didn’t attempt any long balls but was consistent and fairly alright with his passing, playing it with both feet. Shahrul is quick in acceleration, as a moment on the pitch where Shahrul and Quentin didn’t communicate as both tried to win a header, Shahrul’s recovery pace ensures Laos doesn’t get an attempt to get the ball.

I felt that Laos didn’t look threatening in Malaysia’s defence when Shahrul was playing. He had shown how he could deal with opposition strikers, but I think that against better strikers he would struggle. Shahrul was substituted at the start of the 2nd half. 

Rating – B2

Shahrul may not have the physical stature to compete with strong forwards, but his determination and reading of the game play a big role in competing against them.

Mukhairi Ajmal

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Malaysian
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 07/11/2001
  • Club: Selangor FC
  • Career: Perak II, Selangor FC
  • Position: Central Midfielder
  • Secondary Position: Left Winger, Attacking Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

Mukhairi played as the pivot in Malaysia’s midfield. In my opinion, he didn’t have the best of games as he showed inconsistency and weaknesses in a game that was comfortable for him. His decision-making was mostly wasteful, losing balls by giving the ball away through his long passes or fouling the opponent unnecessarily. He would then make the decision to shoot afar from the goal which didn’t threaten the Laos’ goalkeeper instead of finding better options. 

The Malaysian midfielder is able to pass with both feet and has a good vision of his players. However, he lacks the consistency in technique to execute long passes as it was either overhit or inaccurate. One of his main strengths was his crossing technique and set pieces. His crosses were consistent and dangerous, and he was a threat from deep as he played crosses into Laos’ box. His ball-carrying was decent and was able to evade pressure by twisting and turning his opponent. Mukhairi was involved in Malaysia’s first goal when he received a ball from Quentin, carried the ball into Laos’ midfield and played a good left-footed ball to Nor Hakim and crosses in for Sergio Aguero. Mukhairi was then substituted at the start of the 2nd half.

Rating – C

Mukhairi didn’t impress apart from his set pieces and crosses. In a game where Malaysia dominated, Mukhairi didn’t make the best decisions possible and his decision-making and inconsistency in his long balls let him down with poor performance. 

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Haqimi Azim Rosli

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Malaysian
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 06/01/2003
  • Club: Kuala Lumpur City FC
  • Career: Kuala Lumpur City FC
  • Position: Centre Forward
  • Secondary Position: Left Winger
  • Preferred foot: Right

Haqimi was brought in to replace Faisal Halim and played as the striker for less than 20 minutes in the match but grabbed a goal and an assist. His goal came 6 minutes after he came on when Safawi crosses in the box and hit on the back of Haqimi’s body, which sets him up for a terrific first-time volley in the bottom corner. His assist came when he receives the ball back to goal and shimmies away from 2 defenders before laying it to Stuart Wilkin to score a long and powerful shot which was poorly conceded by Laos’ goalkeeper. 

Haqimi displayed some traits of what a modern forward would be, as he links up play and look to find his teammates with his one-touch passes. He would create movements around the box or in between channels. He could have scored a header which was brushed away from his head, and I felt that he might need to improve his connection in heading. 

Rating – B1

Even though Haqimi didn’t play that much, I can see that he’s hungry for goals. He had a few opportunities in this match but his inexperience plays a part. I’m sure he will further improve and that the tournament will play a big part in his development. 

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