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Malaysia, Thailand play to draw

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia and Thailand settled for a 0-0 draw in the 2018 AFF Cup semi-finals first leg at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.

Malaysia started strongly and came close within the first five minutes with Safawi Rasid blazing over the bar twice as the Harimau Malaya looked to impose themselves early on in front of a sold-out stadium.

And it was Safawi again who went close to breaking the deadlock with the first meaningful shot on target in the 19th minute.

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The Johor Darul Ta'zim star was sent through into the area after a cheeky backheel by Mohamadou Sumareh, only to see his drive across goal pushed away by Thailand goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom.

Sumareh then twice went close in a matter of minutes at the other end. First seeing a shot bobble wide following a quick team counter, and then a surging solo run that the Gambian-born midfielder couldn't quite find a finish.

The half ended with Malaysia having more chances at goal and the defending AFF Cup champions looking slightly off the pace.

In attempt to wrest control of the match, Thailand beefed up their midfield after the restart with Pokklaw Annan replacing the more attacking Supachai.

However, the two sides struggled to find the target as Norshahrul Idlan and Adisak Kraisorn both saw efforts wasted at either end.

Norshahrul had a golden chance to put the home side on the scoreboard but he couldn't keep his volleyed effort from close range down, after he'd been put through via a one-two with Zaquan Adha.

Safawi, then had a golden opportunity to make amends for his opening half misses, but his effort was well off target.

Both teams now head to the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok for the second leg on Wednesday, with the winner facing either Vietnam or Philippines in the final.

Sources: Asean Football Federation, AFP

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