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Malaysia overcome hostile environment

Malaysia are champions of the Sea Games again! Baddrol Bakhtiar’s winning penalty in a 4-3 shoot-out win ensured Malaysia retained the football gold medal following a tense final against Indonesia at Gelora Bung Karno yesterday.

After full-time and extra-time ended 1-1, it came down to the lottery of the penalty kicks as goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat’s save from Ferdinand Sinaga set Baddrol up for a grand-stand finish.

The win revived memories of 1979 when Mokhtar Dahari scored the goal which sank Indonesia 1-0 in the Sea Games final in Jakarta, which also happened to be Malaysia’s only other back-to-back successes.

An ecstatic coach Ong Kim Swee also finally revealed his secret pep talk: “They don’t respect you, they don’t respect our flag, they don’t respect our King and they don’t respect your parents. If you allow this to happen, then you are cowards. You must teach them what being Malaysian is all about.

“We beat them not once but twice in front of their fanatical crowds. We showed them how it is done.”

He added: “It was a tough job in selecting players as we have faced so many injuries but no matter who I picked to play they gave it their all.

“As a coach I did not have to tell the players what to do. They already knew the situation so when it came to the penalties, they showed good character and attitude.”

But it did not start well for the Malaysian players, perhaps shell-shocked after the bus carrying them into the stadium was attacked tentatively.

Indonesia, bidding to end a 20-year gold medal drought in football, started at a furious pace as Fahmi was put to work immediately.

As early as the third minute, Fahmi went low to parry Titus Bonai’s pile-driver before coming off his line to deny Andik Vermansyah two minutes later.

But there was little Fahmi could do with Indonesia’s opener in the sixth minute when Gunawan Dwi Cahyo rose high at the back post to nod in a corner.

To Malaysia’s credit they did not fold as Asraruddin Putra Omar had a point-blank header blocked by goalkeeper Kurnia Meiga in the 13th minute.

Indonesia had a goal disallowed for offside four minutes later before Irfan Fazail wasted an opportunity when his shot was deflected after Kurnia had dropped a harmless-looking cross.

Malaysia were not to be denied though as Baddrol whipped a cross in which Asraruddin stooped low to head into goal, the ball rolling across the line, in the 35th minute.

Eight minutes after half-time, Malaysia should have scored on the break but Ahmad Fakri Sarrani went for goal from a tight angle when a teammate was better placed and had his shot saved.

Two minutes later Irfan scuffed his attempt from inside the box before Fakri wasted another chance in the 65th minute when he shot wildly after being played in by Baddrol.

Up at the other end Oktovianus Maniani turned two Malaysian defenders before firing into the side-netting before Baddrol had Kurnia at full-stretch to turn his free-kick away in the 85th minute.

That forced extra-time when Indonesia again had a goal ruled out for offside as the two tired teams struggled to create chances, leading to penalties.

Gunawan hit Indonesia’s second penalty against the post before Fakri fluffed his. Then came Fahmi’s brilliant save before Baddrol ensured Malaysia won the Sea Games football gold for a sixth time.

Read more: SEA GAMES: Baddrol’s golden kick – Soccer – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/sports/soccer/sea-games-baddrol-s-golden-kick-1.9309#ixzz1eVnA1JDl

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