Timor Leste put on gritty show despite match-fixing scandal
Minnows produce dogged display despite match-fixing scandal
(D. Saarvindran 12)
TIMOR LESTE 0
Over the past two days, the Timor Leste Under-23 football team's preparations for the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games have been thrown into disarray by match-fixing allegations.
The drama started on Thursday when the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) announced that three Timorese players were assisting in investigations.
Yesterday afternoon, it was revealed that Timor Leste team manager Orlando Marques was among four people charged in court for attempting to fix the team's opening Group B clash against Malaysia.
Nonetheless, Timor Leste coach Fabio da Silva believes any lingering doubts over his charges should be put to rest after the team's battling display in a 1-0 defeat by Malaysia at Bishan Stadium last night.
The Young Tigers scored in the 12th minute when Nurridzuan Abu Hassan and Syafiq Ahmad combined well to carve out an opening for D. Saarvindran, who made no mistake in steering a low shot past Ramos Maxanches.
However, Ong Kim Swee's side were dealt a huge blow in the 32nd minute when Nazmi Faiz was shown a straight red by referee Jansen Foo for allegedly spitting at Filipe Oliveira. With the momentum in their favour, Timor Leste began to push forward with greater intent and spent plenty of the second half in control of proceedings - something Da Silva believes proves that his players are here solely to play football.
"For sure, I have absolute faith in my players," he said. "Perhaps I shouldn't say '100 per cent' because they are still humans at the end of the day but, from what I can see from the game and during training daily, I know I can trust them.
"I just knew about the whole (match-fixing) situation this afternoon (Saturday) while watching the news on television and, of course, the players are hurt (by the claims), but they showed a good mentality.
"Now we have to forget this and concentrate on our jobs, which is to come here and play good football."
It could have been even better for the region's minnows last night as they twice came excruciatingly close to pulling level in the final five minutes, which would have then seen them claim an unlikely draw given they were beaten 11-0 in the last meeting between the two sides at the 2009 SEA Games.
On both occasions, Timor Leste captain Anggisu Barbosa looked set to become the hero as he blasted ferocious free-kicks towards goal, but Malaysia goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar produced two excellent saves to help his team hold out for the win.
Speaking after the game, Malaysia coach Ong praised his side's resolve, but warned Nazmi there could be consequences for his indiscipline.
"I don't care about the result," he said. "The most important thing is that we got the three points.
"Yes, Thailand and Vietnam may have both won by six goals (on Friday) but, like us, they still have three points, not six.
"I have yet to see the incident but, of course, I'm not happy if what they claim Nazmi did is true; it's definitely something I cannot tolerate.
"If it turns out to be true and he's suspended for a lengthy period, or even the rest of the group stage, then I could very well send him home.
"It made things very difficult for us but the other 10 players, as well as the substitutes who came on, worked very hard and you could see they really wanted the result."
MALAYSIA: Farhan Abu Bakar, Matthew Davies, Adam Nor Azlin, Amer Saidin, Fandi Othman, Gary Robbat (Saiful Ridzuwan 74), Amirul Hisyam, Nazmi Faiz, D. Saarvindran, Nurridzuan Abu Hassan (Nazirul Naim 57), Syafiq Ahmad (S. Kumaahran 57).
TIMOR LESTE: Ramos Maxanches, Agostinho, Jorge Sabas, Filipe Oliveira (Ezequiel Fernandes 46), Carlos Magno, Anggisu Barbosa, Paulo Helber, Frangcyatma Alves, Nilo Soares (Nataniel Reis 46), Jose Fonseca (Feliciano Goncalves 63), Jairo Neto.
- TNP Man of the Match: Fandi Othman (Malaysia)