By K. RAJAN
PETALING JAYA: The national Under-22 football team received the perfect boost before the AFC Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 win over the Qatar Under-22 side in a friendly match that turned decidedly unfriendly at Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.
Coach Ong Kim Swee’s team showed their class with Irfan Fazail opening the scoring from a free-kick in the 27th minute before Rozaimi Abdul Rahman added the second in the 68th in an explosive match marred by a free-for-all.
Qatar’s robust play frustrated the Harimau Muda and sparked a melee with defender Abdelkarim Hassan Fadlalla shown a red card for a two-footed lunge on Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul in the 43rd minute.
The crude tackle resulted in Malaysian midfielder Nazmi Faiz Mansor retaliating with a punch and all hell broke loose with players from both sides pushing and shoving each other.
Nazmi was duly shown the red card.
Kim Swee hailed the importance of the win before his side begin their campaign in the AFC Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers in Myanmar from June 23-July 3.
“We deserved the win and it gives us confidence ahead of our opening match against South Korea,” said Kim Swee.
“We lost 4-0 to the Qatari Olympic team in a friendly last year when we were preparing for the Olympic qualifier. It isn’t easy to beat a Middle Eastern side and this positive result is a good sign.
“The red card incident will serve as a lesson for Nazmi.
“I hope he will learn to control himself and not repeat it.”
A remorseful Nazmi apologised for his sending off, admitting that he was overwhelmed by his emotions.
“I’m at fault as I shouldn’t have retaliated.
“I have learnt my lesson and won’t repeat it in future,” said Nazmi, who signed a professional contract with Portuguese Premier League club Beira-Mar last month.
Kim Swee will name the squad for the AFC Under-22 Asian Cup in the next few days.
Malaysia open their Group G campaign against South Korea on June 23 followed by the Philippines two days later, Taiwan on June 28, Vietnam (June 30) and Myanmar (July 3).
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