PETALING JAYA: Striker Mohd Safee Sali ended his 11-month international goal drought by scoring the opening goal in Malaysia’s 3-0 win over Hong Kong in a international friendly at the Mongkok Stadium in Hong Kong last night.
The 28-year-old Safee’s performance is clearly a huge boost for the national team ahead of their defence of the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Federation (AFF) championship, which Malaysia and Thailand will co-host next month.
Safee opened accounts in the 60th minute before second-half substitutes Safiq Rahim and Ahmad Fakri Saarani added a goal each in the 81st and 90th minutes respectively.
Safee, who starred with five goals en route to helping Malaysia lift the Suzuki Cup in 2010, last scored in November last year – firing a brace in the 3-2 loss to India. Nippy flanker S. Kunalan paved the way for the opening goal when he robbed the ball from his opponent before relaying it to Safee, who turned and unleashed a left-footed shot that had Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai beaten all the way in the 60th. Safiq, who did not start because of an ankle strain, made his presence felt with a lovely free-kick goal in the 81st minute before Ahmad Fakri wrapped up the game with the third off a goalmouth melee in stoppage time.
National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal did not have his full squad available as several national players from Armed Forces and Kelantan were left behind to prepare for the Malaysia Cup final on Saturday.
The national side will next play a friendly against Vietnam on Nov 3 in Hanoi.
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- FAM: No directive received to ban Safee from national team