Singapore 1 Malaysia 2: Tigers overcome poor first half to defeat Causeway rivals
Ariff Farhan, Malaysia U22, 13/07/2017
Halftime subs Nor Azam Azih and Thanabalan Nadarajah inspired Malaysia's comeback win, and this report is brought to you by Schick Quattro Titanium 4

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Hosts Malaysia recorded their second win in Group A of the SEA Games men's football competition, edging Causeway rivals Singapore 2-1 with a comeback win. Amiruldin Nodin opened the scoring in the 38th minute with a beautiful shot from outside the box, but halftime substitutions Nor Azam Azih and Thanabalan Nadarajah rescued the Tigers, with goals in the 68th and 74th minute respectively.

The hosts started with goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli replacing Ifwat Akmal, captain Adib Zainudin, defender Adam Nor Azlin, forwards Kumaahran Sathasivam and Safawi Rasid, as well as Matthew Davies who earlier had been a doubt due to a knock he picked up in the earlier match against Brunei.

Singapore boss Richard Tardy meanwhile fielded goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, brothers Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi, Rusyaidi Salime and Muhelmy Suhaimi.

Both sides had similar shares of the possession in the first 15 minutes, making the respective first attempts in that period.

Soon the hosts, buoyed by the home fans' support, started winning more of the possession and pressuring their opponents.

However, the same problem that troubled them against Brunei meant the scoreline remained goalless. Despite managing to breach the Lions' final third, their deliveries into the danger area left a lot to be desired.

It was the visitors who drew first blood, when in the 38th minute Syamer Kutty Abba lost the ball near the centre circle. Amiruldin Nodin collected the ball, crept towards the penalty area and curled the ball from outside, beating Haziq and giving them an unlikely lead.

Just before halftime Malaysia almost levelled the scoreline, but Safawi's freekick from outside the box only hit the crossbar. A repeat of his attempt against Brunei last Monday. The first half ended 1-0 to the visitors.

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At the start of the second half, Malaysia head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee made a double substitution, taking off Syahmi Safari and Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik for Thanabalan Nadarajah and Nor Azam Azih.

Kumaahran almost found the back of the net in the 63rd minute, but his turning shot from outside ended agonisingly over the bar.

They finally found the equaliser in the 68th minute, when the Lions' defence fell asleep. A throw in from the left found Azam at the edge of the box, and the substitution struck the ball in at the near post.

The momentum was soon the hosts'.

Just four minutes later, they went in front. A long pass from the right was passed into the box and Thanabalan muscled his way towards the ball, before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Zharfan.

The Tigers then held on to record their second win in Group A.

Singapore: Zharfan (GK), Syahrul, Amirul (Taufik 83'), Irfan (C), Rusyaidi, Muhelmy (Joshua 75'), Amiruldin, Hami, Muhaimin (Adam 67), Lee, Ikhsan.

Malaysia: Haziq (GK), Davies, Adam, Adib (C), Irfan, Arif, Syahmi (Thanabalan 46'), Amirul (Azam 46'), Syamer, Kumahraan, Safawi (AKhyar 87').