KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Vietnam kicked off their AFF Suzuki Cup campaigns with straightforward victories in Singapore on Monday (Dec 6).
In the earlier kick-off, Malaysia defeated Cambodia 3-1 at Bishan Stadium .
Ranked 154th in the world, they began their Group B match brightly, nearly taking an early lead through Syafiq Ahmad, whose header in the second minute went just inches above the crossbar.
Shortly after, winger Safawi Rasid's blistering shot from 18m out drew a save from Cambodian goalkeeper Keo Soksela.
Tan Cheng Hoe’s charges eventually made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute, after Cambodia's Ken Chansopheak fouled Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid in the box to give away a penalty and earn himself a yellow card.
Safawi converted from the spot, sending Keo in the opposite direction as he tucked the ball into the right side of goal.
The Angkor Warriors, under the tutelage of Japanese Ryu Hirose, attempted to hit back through counterattacks for the rest of the first half, but the Malaysian defence held firm with veteran goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in fine form.
Malaysia extended their lead close to the hour mark through Muhammad Akhyar, who received a long pass from Syafiq and outwitted two defenders before slotting the ball into the back of the net.
The team then put the match beyond Cambodia's reach when substitute M Kogileswaran Raj scored off a short cross by Luqman Hakim Shamsudin in the 79th minute.
Cambodia, ranked 170th in the world, managed to reply through a Sath Rosib penalty late in the game.
Malaysia were playing without goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid and midfielder Faisal Halim, who were in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
This win means that the 2010 champions remain undefeated against Cambodia in the AFF Suzuki Cup, having emerged victorious in all three of their meetings in the competition since 2000.
They next play Laos this Thursday, before taking on Vietnam on Dec 12 and Indonesia in their final group match on Dec 19.
The top two teams in the group will advance to the next round.
VIETNAM BEAT LAOS 2-0
In the other Group B match on Monday, Vietnam kicked off their title defence with a 2-0 win over Laos.
Striker Nguyen Cong Phuong gave Vietnam the lead in the 26th minute before winger Phan Van Duc doubled their advantage with a header after the break.
Vietnam sit second in Group B, trailing Malaysia on goal difference.
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