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Malaysia qualify for Asian Cup

Written By : Sandru Narayanan

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia have qualified for the 2023 Asian Cup after beating Bangladesh 4-1 in their Group E qualifier at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, the first time the national team have qualified on merit in 42 years.

After beating Turkmenistan 3-1 and losing 2-1 to Bahrain in their previous two Group E matches, Malaysia needed just a point from tonight’s encounter to progress to the tournament as among the best five runners-up in the third round of the qualifiers.

This will be the first time they have qualified on merit since the 1980 edition in Kuwait.

Malaysia last competed in the regional tournament in 2007.

Malaysia, which failed to beat Bangladesh in their previous two meetings, opened the scoring in the 16th minute after a Safawi Rasid penalty.

Bangladesh’s Mohammad Ibrahim equalised in the 31st minute, but Harimau Malaya regained the lead through Dion Cools seven minutes later.

Syafiq Ahmad made it 3-1 two minutes after the restart, with Darren Lok sealing the deal for the hosts in the 73rd minute.

Malaysia end their Group E campaign second on six points, with Bahrain topping the group with nine points and Turkmenistan and Bangladesh propping up the table.

This will be Malaysia’s fourth appearance at the Asian Cup. Their previous campaign in 2007 was when they co-hosted the tournament with Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

China was to host the 2023 Asian Cup across 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16 next year. However, it recently pulled out of organising the 24-team competition, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement last month, the Asian Football Confederation said that further details about the next steps related to the hosting of the 2023 Asian Cup would be announced in due course.



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