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2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, AFC Asian Cup Qualifying - Group Stage
  • Jordi Tarras (44')
  • Jaimes McKee (49')

Safiq Rahim red card as Malaysia lose again in Asian Cup qualifying

The hopes of Malaysia making it to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup look to be all but over following a 2-0 defeat away to Hong Kong in qualifying on Tuesday night after playing most of the game with 10 men.

Captain Safiq Rahim was shown a straight red card for a deliberate stamp on Daniel Cancela Rodriguez four minutes before half-time.

Their second defeat in three games sees the Harimau Malaya firmly rooted to the bottom of Group B, ahead of three tough fixtures against North Korea (home and away) and Lebanon.

Nelo Vingada made four changes from the side who played a 1-1 draw against Hong Kong on Sept. 5, giving Syamer Kutty Abba a senior debut in a holding midfield role alongside Kiko Insa.

Matthew Davies came in as right-back, while Safawi Rasid started upfront in place of Darren Lok.

Kim Pan-Gon, meanwhile, went with a front three of Godfred Karikari, Jorge Tarres and Jaimes McKee to unlock the Malaysian backline.

At a sparsely filled Hong Kong Stadium, the home side had a great chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute after Xu Deshuai was left completely unmarked on the right wing. But the midfielder failed to capitalise on the ample space and time, skewing Rodriguez's cross just wide.

The home side were warming up nicely, and they let Malaysia off the hook again after 28 minutes, as Karikari directed McKee's low cross wide of Hafizul Hakim's right post.

Spanish-born Tarres smashed the upright three minutes later after Khairul Helmi Johari had given away the ball just outside the box, and it seemed only a matter of time before Hong Kong broke the deadlock.

After Safiq's dismissal, Tarres took advantage of the extra man to give Hong Kong the lead just before half-time, powering a thumping header past the rooted Hafizul from Wong Wai's free kick.

Vingada introduced Darren Lok for Safawi after the break as the Malaysians went in search of a big 45 minutes to stay alive. But three minutes into the second half, their hopes were all but over.

McKee headed Hong Kong to a 2-0 lead after Xu turned Nazirul Naim inside out to send in a perfect delivery from the right.

Hong Kong then worked the visitors into submission by dominating possession against 10 men for the rest of the match.

With their first Group B win, Hong Kong moved into second spot, above North Korea, but behind Lebanon.

It was Vingada's fourth defeat in five matches in charge. He is still without a win after a disastrous reign since taking over from Ong Kim Swee earlier this year.

Malaysia: Hafizul Hakim (GK), Shahrom Kalam, Khairul Helmi, Baddrol Bakhtiar (Wan Zack Haikal 77'), Safiq Rahim (C), Syamer Kutty Abba (Akram Mahinan 73'), Matthew Davies, Syazwan Zainon, Safawi Rasid, Kiko Insa, Nazirul Naim

Hong Kong: Yupp Hing Fai (GK) (C), Daniel Cancela Rodriguez, Helio Jose De Souza, Fernando Recio, Huang Yang, Xu Deshuai, Godfred Karikari, Roberto Orlando, Jorge Tarres (Sandro 70'), Wong Wai (Yu Yingzhi 61'), Jaimes McKee

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