KUANTAN: A European training stint over six months for the Harimau Muda A (national Under-23) squad has paid off handsomely.
The squad emerged champions of the 41st edition of the Merdeka Cup tournament when they defeated Myanmar 2-0 in the final at the Darul Makmur Stadium here last night.
Clearly, the effort by the FAM of Malaysia (FAM) to send the team coached by Ong Kim Swee to train in Europe since March, has borne fruit.
Two goals, by striker Md Rozaimi Abd Rahman in the 29th minute and winger Putera Nadher Amarhan in the 94th minute, made all the difference in Sunday night’s final.
The last time Malaysia won the Cup was in 2007 when the Harimau Muda A , then coached by B. Sathianathan, also defeated Myamnar 3-1 in the final at the Shah Alam Stadium.
At this edition, the team did not drop a single match in the group stage, defeating Singapore 1-0, Myanmar 2-1 and traditional foes Thailand 3-0.
Last night’s victory before some 30,000 vociferous home supporters was all the more meaningful as Malaysia just celebrated its 56th Independence (Merdeka) anniversary and will be celebrating Malaysia Day today.
In fact, the tournament was introduced to celebrate Malaysia’s independence. — Bernama