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Bangkok: Malaysia sealed their place in the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship Final after winning Group H in stunning fashion at the Supachalasai Stadium in Bangkok on Sunday. 

Malaysia went into the match on three points and needed to win to stay in contention for a place in next year's Finals in China while Mongolia, on one point, only had a mathematical chance.

And the Malaysians did just that, winning 2-0 to surge to the top of the table. They then faced an anxious wait for the Thailand-Indonesia result and after a nervy 90 minutes, there was only joy for the Malaysians after the final Group H match ended 0-0. 

Malaysia finished on six points while Thailand ended with five. Indonesia settled for four points with Mongolia returning home with one.

Beaten 3-0 by Thailand on Matchday 2, Malaysia started aggressively against Mongolia and Muhammad Akhyar Rashid narrowly missed in the opening minutes. 

Mongolia were content to play a counter-attacking game and had a glimpse at goal in the 25th minute but defender Bilguun Damdindorj's free-kick was just wide.

Malaysia continued to call the shots and striker N. Thanabalan tested Mongolian goalkeeper Enkhtaivan Munkherdene, who was equal to the effort. 

The first half continued on that theme, with Malaysia controliing play and Mongolia looking to hit on the break, but neither side were deadly in front of goal.

Malaysia finally found a breakthrough five minutes into the second half as Thanabalan hit the back of the net. 

Lifted by the goal, Malaysia continued pressing but had to wait till the 86th minute before confirming victory through Muhammad Syazwan Zaipol Bahari.

Hans Weiss (Mongolia Coach)

“The first half, my team played very well with a good attacking game. While the second half, we looked a bit tired. However, I am pleased with my boys. They represented Mongolia. In the overall performance in this game, I am very happy as most of the players are below 21 years old. The one point (against Thailand) that we got from this tournament makes us very happy. This team is for the future. We hope that these players will keep on developing."  

Ong Kim Swee (Malaysia Coach)

“Today we made some changes in the team because we played two matches in five days which made the players tired. We had to make the players fresh to play in this game."


Bangkok: Thailand face a nervous wait after only managing a 0-0 draw with Indonesia in their final AFC U-23 Championship qualifier on Sunday.

With Malaysia winning the group, Thailand must now hope they finish among the best six second-placed teams to see action in China next year.

Thailand made three changes from the Malaysia game, bringing in Worachit Kanitsribumphen, Nopphon Phonkam and Phitiwat Sookjitthaammakul for this match.

Despite a heavy downpour, Thailand played aggressively and should have scored in the 12th minute but Suriya Singmui's effort was saved by Indonesian goalkeeper Kurniawan Kartika.

Thailand controlled the game but Indonesia had their chances too, with captain Hansamu Yama Pranata heading over the bar from close range.

It started to rain again midway through the half and with both teams struggling with the conditions, there was no goal forthcoming for either side going into the break.

A few seconds after the second half kicked off, Sasalak Haiprakhon played a decent pass but the ball was cleared by Kurniawan before Thai striker Chenrop Samphaodi could reach it.

Both sides only had half chances to show beyond that and despite throwing everything forward in the closing minutes, Thailand failed to find a away through. 

Luis Milla Aspas (Indonesia Coach)

"The result is a disappointment for our team. I feel sorry for the players as they had focused a lot on this game. We started off not very well when we lost the first game to Malaysia. However, we have tried our best and I believe that these players will keep on going to develop their skills.”

Worrawoot Srimakha (Thailand Coach)

“We used the same tactics like the first match - playing the long ball. I told the players not to concede a goal. It did not rain before the match but it rained during the game, which made us change tactics. I am pleased with the fighting spirit of the players."

Photos: AFC