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Daring to dream: Malaysia enters football semis with 3-1 win over Laos


SHAH ALAM: As expected, the national Under-22 side topped Group A of the Sea Games football competition by overcoming Laos 3-1 tonight.
With an unblemished record of four victories from as many group matches, Malaysia can now dare to dream as they shift their focus on Saturday's semi- finals.
Joining Malaysia in the last four is Myanmar who took the runners-up spot with nine points.
Malaysia's semi-final opponents will be decided after tomorrow's final round of matches in Group B, where they could face either Thailand, Indonesia or Vietnam.
This is also the first time Malaysia have won all their group matches since the 2003 Vietnam Sea Games where they were the eventual bronze medallist.
Understandably, Malaysia slightly lacked the creativity in the opening minutes as national youth coach Ong Kim Swee fielded an experimental side, with eight changes to his line-up that beat Myanmar 3-1 on a Monday.
But it did not take long for them to settle down as Kim Swee's side took the lead in the 26th minute.
Forward Syafiq Ahmad's header came off the Laos crossbar and Jafri Firdaus Chew was the first to react, directing the ball into the back of the net.
However, Laos served a surprise when midfielder Phanthavong Thanin scored with a free kick past Malaysian goalkeeper Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim in the 32nd minute.
Malaysia restored their lead when captain Adib Zainuddin's deep cross from the right was deflected by a Laos defender past his goalkeeper Paseuth Saymanolinh in the 39th minute.
Jafri added his second goal of the match in stoppage time.
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