KUALA LUMPUR – A brace by Indra Putra Mahayuddin gave Malaysia a 2-1 victory over Thailand in a match-up of the Asian Cup co-hosts at the Merdeka Tournament on Friday evening.
Malaysia’s win and the goalless draw between Myanmar and another Asian Cup co-host, Indonesia, in the day’s other match at the Shah Alam Stadium puts the home side in a strong position to reach the tournament final next Tuesday.
The Pahang striker opened the scoring for Norizan Bakar’s side five minutes before the break, turning in Hardi Jaafar’s free-kick.
Substitute Tana Chanabut levelled matters for the Thais in the 62nd minute but Indra latched on to a through pass by Saramsak Kram to score the winner with 12 minutes remaining.
The victory was Malaysia’s first in an official A international since their 2-1 triumph over Myanmar in the third place playoff of the ASEAN Football Federation Championship in January 2005.
The Malaysians drew 1-1 with Indonesia in their opening game on Wednesday and need only a point from their final round-robin game against Myanmar on Sunday to reach the tournament final.
The Thais, who were held 2-2 by Myanmar on Wednesday, need a victory against the Indonesians in their last group game to advance.
2006 Merdeka Tournament results
Malaysia 2 Thailand 1
Indonesia 0 Myanmar 0