JAKARTA: Malaysia has won the AFF-Suzuki Cup on a 4-2 aggregate. Indonesia won the second leg of the final 2-1 in Jakarta on Wednesday night while Malaysia had won the first leg 3-0 in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
The scorers for Indonesia were Mohammad Ridwan (87th minute) and Mohammad Nasuha (71st). Safee Sali had scored in the 53rd minute to put Malaysia 1-0 in the lead.
It was a significant success for Malaysia as the last time the senior national team became champions in a regional competition was at the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
It was also the first time in the AFF Championships since 1996 that Malaysia has become champions.
To make it a grand night for Malaysia, Safee won the Golden Boot award with five goals to his name. The striker was on target twice in the first leg.
Later Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak declared Friday, Dec 31, a public holiday in recognition of our team's AFF-Suzuki Cup triumph.
Malaysia started with the same line-up that was fielded in the first leg, except for midfielder Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal and right-back Mahali Jasuli, who were suspended. The duo were replaced by Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin and Mohd Sabree Abu respectively.
The Indonesians were without their inspirational flanker Okto Maniani, who was also out on suspension while striker Yongky Ari Bowo was out with an injury. Their replacements were Arif Suyono and Irfan Bachdim respectively.
As expected, Indonesia came charging from the starting whistle but the Malaysian defence led by Mohd Muslim Ahmad and Mohd Fadhli Shas did well to keep a tight leash on Indonesian dangermen Christian Gonzales and Irfan Bachdim.
But a lapse of concentration inside the box resulted in Indonesia winning a penalty in the 15th minute, when Mohd Sabree handled the ball.
However, much to the disappointment of the Indonesian fans, skipper Firman Utina’s tame kick was saved by Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
The Indonesians, who were desperate for an early goal, kept on pressing for the opening goal but Khairul Fahmi proved to be a stumbling block, denying at least five attempts at goal before the half-time break.
Malaysia took the lead against the run of play in the 53rd minute, when Ashaari sent a long through ball for Safee to chase, and the Selangor hitman scored a clinical goal.
Despite being a goal down, Indonesia never gave up and their persistence paid off as defender Mohammad Nasuha pounced on a loose ball from goalkeeper Khairul’s save to hit the roof of the net in the 71st minute.
Then with the clock ticking away, Muhammad Ridwan scored from a goal-mouth melee in the 87th minute but this was not enough to deny Malaysia the AFF-Suzuki Cup.