Malaysia warm up with win over Nepal, Uzbekistan beaten in Turkey
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia warmed up for their impending FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers with a 2-0 victory over Nepal, while Uzbekistan were beaten by the same margin against Turkey, in friendly internationals played on Sunday.
MALAYSIA 2-0 NEPAL
Malaysia defeated Nepal 2-0 as the Southeast Asians enter the final phase of their preparations for the first round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar Qualifiers.
Malaysia, who will face regional rivals Timor-Leste in the first round of the Qualifiers, turned on the power in the second half with Safawi Rashid and Shahrul Saad finding the back of the net at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
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With the qualifying tie also serving as the first step towards making the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, Malaysia started brightly with Safawi earning a free-kick just a minute into the tie.
The set-piece yielded no dividends but Safawi pressed again seconds later but was denied by a tackle with the resultant corner bringing no joy to Malaysia. Syazwan Zainon then saw his effort hitting the woodwork.
Malaysia continued to press after the breather and their positive approach was finally rewarded as substitute Akhyar Rashid was brought down in the penalty box. Safawi stepped up to convert the penalty in the 51st minute.
That set the stage for an exciting second half as Nepal went in search of the equaliser while Malaysia sought a second goal to put the match to bed.
It was to be the hosts who would find the net again as Shahrul headed home a set-piece in the 82nd minute as Malaysia now set their sights on the first leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar Qualifier against Timor Leste on Friday.
The second leg, also to be played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, is on June 11.
TURKEY 2-0 UZBEKISTAN
A goal either side of half-time from emerging LOSC Lille defender Zeki Çelik helped Turkey to a win over Uzbekistan in a friendly match played Alanya.
Turkey made 10 changes from the side beat Greece 2-1 on Thursday, but Çelik’s goals – both a result of well-executed set piece deliveries – helped the hosts to a fourth successive win.
Hector Cuper’s Uzbekistan side started relatively brightly, with Jubilo Iwata’s Fozil Musaev firing an early sighter wide of the Turkish net in the tenth minute, but the Central Asians were behind seven minutes later, as Çelik’s header found the farthest reaches of the top corner following a pinpoint delivery from Irfan Kahveci.
Turkey’s confidence grew, as did their control of the tie, and Çelik was on hand to double his tally in the 57th minute, poking the ball home from close range after goalkeeper Eldorbek Suyunov had made a superb initial save to deny Kenan Karaman’s headed effort following a short corner routine.
With Odil Ahmedov at the helm, Uzbekistan produced arguably their brightest period of play in the final thirty minutes of the match, but they were unable to find the goal to spark a late charge.
Turkey had a chance to extend the lead further when they were awarded a late penalty, but Suyunov produced a strong save to deny Kahveci’s 89th-minute spot kick to keep the margin to 2-0.
Uzbekistan are back in action in another friendly against DPR Korea in Tashkent on Friday, with their preparations for forthcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers continuing four days later against Syria.
Photos: Football Association of Malaysia, Uzbekistan Football Association
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