SEA Games: Two-goal Luqman Hakim helps M’sia exact revenge on Laos
NAM DINH (Vietnam): Striker Luqman Hakim Shamsudin bagged a brace to help the national Under-23 team gain revenge over Laos with a 3-1 win in Group B of the men’s football competition in the 31st SEA Games at the Thien Truong Stadium here tonight.
Luqman Hakim scored his brace in the 36th and 67th minutes while Muhammad Syahir Bashah chipped in with the other in the 43rd minute. Laos scored a consolation goal through substitute Visith in the 85th minute.
The win, their second straight triumph in the group following a hard-fought 2-1 opening-day victory over Thailand on Saturday (May 7), not only silenced the doubters but also allowed Malaysia to avenge the two defeats – 2-1 and 2-0 – to Laos in the AFF Under-23 Championship in February.
The success of the team, under the guidance of head coach Brad Maloney, in clinching all three points today sees Malaysia top the group with six points from two wins.
Buoyed by Saturday’s win over Thailand, the national team, however, got off to a slow start against Laos today and didn’t create a single chance in the first 30 minutes.
Then came the breakthrough in the 36th minute when young KV Kortrijk striker Luqman Hakim, who received a pass in the box, cooly beat a defender before ramming home the opening goal.
Stunned, Laos had no choice but to play a more open game and that suited Malaysia, with midfielder Muhammad Syahir seizing on the opportunity to let fly a stinger from outside the box for the second goal seven minutes later.
In the second half, Malaysia nearly got the third goal but skipper Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi’s 51st-minute attempt went just wide.
Laos, feeling the pressure, started to become more aggressive and made some crunching tackles but it never fazed Maloney’s charges and the unmarked Luqman Hakim made it 3-0 in the 67th minute.
That was his final contribution as he had to be replaced by Muhammad Syafik Ismail after suffering an injury.
Malaysia tried their best to keep a clean sheet but to no avail when Laos found the net through Visith five minutes before the end of the game.
That aside, the win will surely be the perfect tonic for Malaysia ahead of their remaining Group B matches against Singapore on Saturday (May 14) and Cambodia on May 16 as Maloney’s men continue their search for a place in the semi-finals.