Group A: Malaysia 4-5 Chinese Taipei
Taipei: Lin Chih-hung’s 39th minute goal gave Chinese Taipei a lifeline as the host nation claimed a 5-4 win over Malaysia to top Group A of the AFC Futsal Championship on Saturday.
Chinese Taipei had taken a two-goal lead going into the break, but Malaysia came back from 4-1 down to draw level only for Chih-hung to seal the win in the final seconds of the match.
It was a win Chinese Taipei needed, after having opened with a 2-2 draw with Bahrain while for Malaysia - who beat Vietnam 2-1 on Matchday 1, qualification to the last eight is still in their hands as they play Bahrain in their final match on Monday.
After enjoying an opening day win, Malaysia started patiently, taking their time to move down the final third, but Chinese Taipei did well to intercept their passes and react on the counter.
In one such instance in the eight minute, Lin Chien-hsun surged down the right flank and unleashed a shot which struck the bar, but Lai Ming-hui latched onto the rebound and made no mistake from close range to give Chinese Taipei the lead.
Chih-hung doubled their advantage with a superb strike in the 13th minute, and Chinese Taipei were given another chance when goalkeeper Azrul Hadee Taufiq committed a back pass foul two minutes later, but Huang Po-chun failed to convert the indirect free kick.
The host nation did not let up on their aggression after the break, and less than a minute in, Chi Sheng-fa etched his name on the scoresheet with a fine shot from a corner set play.
In the 27th minute, Malaysia reduced the deficit when Mohd Azwann Ismail latched on to a stray ball and slid it in with ease, but Chinese Taipei regained their three-goal lead five minutes later after moving on a counter with Ming-hui finding the back of the net, courtesy of Chien-hsun’s pass.
Chiew Chun Yong’s side immediately utilised the power play, and Mohamad Awalluddin Nawi scored his third goal of the tournament a minute later, before the pressure of a five-man Malaysian side caused the host nation to concede an own goal in the 35th minute.
Power player, Mohn Khairul Effendy found the equaliser for Malaysia a few minutes later but Chih-hung hit home for Chinese Taipei a minute from time to take the win.
Chinese Taipei face Vietnam on Monday.
Chiew Chun Yong: Malaysia Head Coach
“We lost with a very small margin. But I have to admit that my team did not perform to our expectations. Chinese Taipei were really disciplined in their formation, and moved on the counter-attack really well. I opted for the power play with seven minutes left because I was confident of our players scoring but we made a mistake and lost a goal. We didn’t have enough time to equalise. The group is now open, and facing Bahrain, they have strong individual players who are physically strong. So that’s something I need to train my team on.”
Jose Adil Amarante: Chinese Taipei Head Coach
“I told my players that to pass through this match, we would have to suffer. And I’m really happy that they performed perfectly. I couldn’t be happier to see such a young team play the way they played tonight. I believe the players’ focus in this match was really high, because of that they could overcome the power play difficulty. I heard a lot of people say that this group is the weakest, but this is the most equal group. Everyone has a fighting chance, and the results prove it. Vietnam and us, will be giving everything on Monday.”