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  • Hadin Azman (45'+2')
  • Noraollah Amiri (22')

Malaysia score first goal since June but held to draw by Afghanistan

Substitute Hadin Azman popped up with a first-half injury time header as Malaysia fought back to share the honours with Afghanistan at Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday, for their second draw in four days.

Noarollah Amiri had put the visitors ahead in the 22nd minute before Felda United midfielder Hadin's equaliser.

True to his word of giving every player in his 30-man squad a chance to impress, Malaysia boss Datuk Ong Kim Swee made eight changes from the goalless draw against neighbours Singapore last Friday.

Only Nazirul Naim, Shahrul Saad and Baddrol Bakhtiar kept their places, as the 45-year-old handed debuts to Kedah midfielder Syazwan Zainon and Perak winger Fazrul Hazli.

Fazrul's club teammate Shahrul was, meanwhile, deployed in an anchor role to stifle the physical threat of the Afghans.

With a small, yet passionate, away support, it was the visitors who started on the front foot. Their captain Faysal Shayesteh turned fullback Nazirul Naim inside out before fizzing a fierce drive that Khairul Fahmi had to beat away in the ninth minute.

Syazwan's debut only lasted 19 minutes until he was forced off with injury. In his place, Hadin came on for his second international cap.

Malaysia were dealt a bigger blow three minutes later when the dazzling feet of Faysal paved the way for Afghanistan's opener.

The Pahang midfielder turned in another wicked cross from the right, which the Malaysians failed to deal with.

The half-clearance to the edge of the penalty box fell to Noarollah Amiri, who curled a sublime finish into the top corner, giving Khairul Fahmi no chance.

Malaysia were struggling to make inroads into a well-disciplined Afghan backline. They only managed a first attempt on goal in the 33rd minute through Shahrul Saad's header, comfortably gathered by Ovays Azizi.

Afghanistan, sensing they could garner a second win in 2016, looked dangerous each time they pressed forward. Some silky link-up play between Abassin Alikhil and Noor Zadran ended with the latter firing just over the bar.

Just as the Malaysia looked set to head into the break a goal down, Hadin popped with a much-needed equaliser in the home side's rare foray forward.

Matthew Davies did well to deliver a teasing cross into the box, which Hadin improved by escaping his marker at the far post to send a firm low header past Ovavys.

The goal was Malaysia's first since a 1-1 draw against Fiji in June, and put belief back into Ong's altered side for the second half.

Noor Zadran could have tilted the advantage back in Afghanistan's favour just after the break, but his header sailed just wide with Khairul scrambling.

Malaysia upped the tempo after that, and looked to utilise both channels of the wing, manned by Hadin and substitute Zaquan Adha.

Baddrol had a glorious chance to mark his captaincy with a goal in the 79th minute, but Ovays made himself big to deny the midfielder.

Both sides pushed forward to find a winner late on, but nothing materialised as the game ended in a fair result to both sides.

Malaysia: Shahrul Saad, Fadhli Shas, Shahrom Kalam, Fazrul Hazli (Zaquan Adha 45'), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Fakhrul Aiman 75'), Baddrol Bakhtiar (C), Fakri Saarani (Hazwan Bakri 62'), Syazwan Zainon (Hadin Azman 19'), Nazirul Naim, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (GK), Matthew Davies

Afghanistan: Ovays Azizi, Abassin Alikhil, Hassan Amin, Masih Saighani, Zubayr Amiri, Noor Zadran, Faysal Shayesteh (C), Noarollah Amiri, Modjieb Jamali, Ahmad Arash, Kanischka Taher