Date: 6 November 2000
Venue: Litis Stadium, Perth, Western Australia
Western Australia : Alan Dunlop, Troy Bernard, Steve MacDonald, Jamie Kuzmanovic, Paul Cooke, Craig Surtees, Scott Devine (Todd Howarth 63), Antonio Naglieri (Todd Harnwell 64), Sandy Robertson, Kevin Correia (John Mirco 59), Trim Morgan (Louis Parkinson 84)
Malaysia : Mohd Syamsuri Mustafa, Irwan Fadli Idrus, Mohd Nizam Jamil, Mohd Mazuki, Rajini a/l Kahendran (Nazril Ezwan 84), Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Shawal Johadi, Azralan Azmi (Mohd Hairul Nizam 63), Fared Shah Hasan, Norhafiz Zamani, Saiful Sabto
Referee: Allan Dix
The opening game of a two match friendly international series between Western Australia and the Malaysian Under-23 team at Litis Stadium on Monday night was witnessed by a paltry 150 spectators, hardly surprising considering the lack of publicity given to the event by those at the Soccer Association of WA With the senior national team involved in the Tiger Cup tournament in Bangkok, this was very much an developmental Malaysian touring party which featured no less than ten players that took part in July's Asian Youth Under-19 Championship. WA opened with promise and held sway for the first ten or so minutes with Paul Cooke reeking havoc with some tight ball control and sublime skills wide the left. He carved out the first chance of the night after 6 minutes, sneaking past his man and clipping a deep cross into the area which found Craig Surtees who connected well but put ball into the side netting.
The visitors settled shortly after and an inch-perfect Rajini a/l Kahendran free-kick in the 9th minute picked out Azralan Azmi at the far post. His powerful header from a narrow angle flew past Dunlop and thankfully for the WA 'keeper beyond the post. A minute later Malaysia should have taken the lead when Troy Bernard badly mis-timed a clearance and Azralan pounced on the loose ball a metre inside the area. But the tall striker panicked with only Dunlop to beat, narrowing his angle by running the ball wide before knocking his shot clear across the face of goal.
It was a miss that would haunt Malaysia within 60 seconds as WA quickly raced the ball to the other of the pitch and took the lead in controversial circumstances. Kevin Correia latched onto a defence-splitting pass from midfielder Sandy Robertson and raced into the penalty area where he was bundled off the ball by 'keeper Mohd Syamsuri Mustafa. There wasn't a moments' hesitation from young referee Allan Dix in pointing to the spot, but the Malaysian players appealed the decision long and hard all the same. Eventually Robertson stepped up and sent the 'keeper the wrong way to open the state teams account.
Having taken the lead, WA then spent much of the rest of the first half on the back foot. Malaysia took control of the middle from where they ran the show, always with a free man moving off the ball and quickly exchanging passes to get around their opponents. But once in attack Malaysia were very reluctant to use the full width of the park, instead preferring to go through the middle on route to goal. As a consequence they managed few genuine shots with the WA backline of Bernard, Jamie Kuzmanovic and Steve MacDonald standing strong in front of Dunlop.
What of those occasions when the visitors did sight goal? Fared Shah Hasan wriggled his way past a couple of opponents in the 14th minute to open up the WA defence only to put his shot into the arms of Dunlop. In the 27th minute Mohd Shawal Johadi turned Kuzmanovic on the right side of the area, confidently strode forward and hit a vicious shot which Dunlop knocked around the post. And a few minutes later a great in-swinging corner from Azralan evaded Dunlop and dropped beyond the far post, but no-one was on hand to put the ball between the posts.
With Malaysia restricting WA's supply through the centre, Trim Morgan was forced to come back into midfield to retrieve the ball but, with only Correia ahead, was left with few options going forward. In their first attacking move since scoring, WA were awarded a corner in the 32nd minute which Cooke knocked short to Robertson before the latter sent it deep to the area. Towering over the defence, MacDonald disappointingly put a weak downward header too close to Syamsuri when normally he'd have found the net.
In the minutes that followed WA enjoyed the better of possession as their midfield finally sparked into life and exposed some alarming holes in the Malaysian defence. In the 36th minute right wingback Surtees sent a low cross from the corner flag, the Malaysian defence were caught ball watching and Antonio Naglieri was on hand to double the margin. It was nothing short of suicidal defending from the visiting team who from some reason allowed the ball to roll straight through the heart of their defensive area and disregarded the threat posed by two unmarked opponents - Naglieri and Correia - lurking well within 10 metres of goal at the far side.
A minute later the margin was extended even further when Correia laid on a neat pass which found Morgan in a dangerous position inside the 6-yard box. The striker created space for himself by swivelling his hips to throw off the nearest defender only to crash his shot on the turn against the base of the up-right. The ball cannoned off the post, struck Syamsuri on the back and re-bounded over the goal line to make for one of the unluckiest own goals you'll ever see. Three minutes from the break it was almost 4-0 when Correia ran onto a lobbing through ball from Naglieri, the striker controlled the bouncing ball with two touches but put his shot wide with Mohd Nizam Jamil quickly closing him down
WA turned the tables in the second half to completely dominate the Malaysian side who would be restricted to shooting from long range for the remainder of the match. Five minutes after the re-start Morgan was unlucky not to get on the score sheet when twice within the space of a minute he was denied by the reflexes of Syamsuri. The striker's first effort was tipped over the bar when he capped a lovely weaving run with a splendid dipping drive from 18 metres. The resulting corner was not properly cleared and was quickly pumped back into the dangerzone, Morgan beating the off-side trap to thump the ball to Syamsuri's right from close range but the 'keeper threw out his hand and pushed it around the post.
The architect of WA's second half revival was Robertson, one of only three players over the age of 23 in the team. Working from the centre of midfield, he stamped his class all over the match with a string of pin-point passes, clever flicks and delightful exchanges which opened up the Malaysian team and set teammates on their way to goal. Other than Robertson it was an average team performance with many players floating in and out of the match with regularity. Only Cooke was consistent down the left flank where his excellent ball control caused all manner of problems for the visitors.
Although overpowering their opponents, WA could not find the net. Correia went for power rather than accuracy in the 58th minute when, 7 metres out, he hit the ball well wide from within a crowd. John Mirco put a long range effort over the bar, and shortly after was in the thick of the action again. A Todd Howarth cross cleared those in the middle and fell to Surtees at the far post, he flicked the ball back over his head and to the top of the area where Mirco volleyed strongly, forcing Syamsuri to dive full-length to keep it out of the net. In the 83rd minute another jinking run by Morgan took him past three opponents before pulling the ball back to Todd Harnwell but his shot clattered into the body of a defender.
In an effort to restore some pride Malaysia fought hard to find a goal in the closing stages with their best chance created by Fared when he raced clear of Cooke down the right and inside the penalty area. He powered the ball to Dunlop's right, the 'keeper responded quickly and palmed the ball across goal where it flew past Indra Putra Mahayuddin who was unable to react in time to tuck it into the now exposed goal.
The visitors frustrations were growing with their lack of success in front of goal and Saiful then Shawal were booked for clashing with Morgan. The latter was lucky not to be sent off after bringing down the striker from behind with a crunching tackle six minutes from full-time. Robertson took the resulting free-kick, hitting a swinging 22-metre right-footer over the wall and out of Syamsuri's reach to make it four-nil. Malaysia looked like getting on the score sheet when awarded an 88th minute free-kick on the edge of the area. Something special was expected as Shawal shaped up to take the kick - his teammates backing off and giving him all the space he needed - only to pump the ball about 10 metres high and wide of the target.
The final whistle signalled the end of a match in which the home side went into the half-time break with an undeserved three goal advantage that greatly flattered their performance. With such a margin to overcome, the game was already well out of the reach of the young Malaysian side who showed promise when going forward, especially in the opening half, but were let down consistently in front of goal. Azralan was perhaps their stand-out player with a stirring first half performance, but he was guilty of missing a couple of clear chances inside the first 10 minutes. At the end of the day it was Malaysia's inability to match the physical prowess of the home team, most notably the hard-tackling Morgan and no-nonsense approach of the defence, that would prove to be the difference between these two sides.
Date: 9 November 2000
Venue: Litis Stadium, Perth, Western Australia
Western Australia (incomplete): Cory Hugo, Todd Harnwell, John Mirco, Louis Parkinson, Trim Morgan
The second and final match in the two game series between Western Australia and Malaysia took place on Thursday night at the Litis Stadium. State coach Paul Wormley opted to go with an under-23 starting line-up at the request of Soccer West Coast in an effort to make the it a more even contest against their young Malaysian opponents. That mean that Trim Morgan, Craig Surtees and the stand-out in Monday's clash Sandy Robertson all found themselves with a place on the bench, although all three did come on as substitutes late in the game.
It was looking as though another Malaysia were on their way to another hammering when the home side raced to a two goal advantage after 32 minutes. Promising wingback Todd Harnwell added some sparkle to the game with a thumping strike to give in the 14th minute. And an unfortunate own goal doubled the margin just after the half hour mark when, under pressure from John Mirco, Malaysian defender Jayaprakash steered Louis Parkinson's cross past his own 'keeper. Two minutes from the break the visitors finally had something to cheer about when influential midfielder Shawal Mouhtar pulled a goal back. The slightly built player took full advantage of Suhaimi Bahauddin's penetrating pass, knocking the ball past an opponent before slotting it past goalkeeper Cory Hugo.
Mouhtar's strike brought confidence to the Malaysian side who came out looking for more goals in the second period and increased the tempo with a string of substitutions. Bahauddin came close to equalising just after the re-start but his ferocious drive skimmed the wrong side of the bar. Following the introduction of their overage players, WA carved out a third goal to out the result beyond doubt. Three minutes from full-time Morgan's powerful shot was too hot to handle for the Malaysian 'keeper, Parkinson collected the crumbs and tapped in from close range to complete the 3-1 scoreline.
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