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Safawi Rashid keeps Malaysia AFC U23 hopes alive


Safawi Rashid keeps Malaysia AFC U23 hopes alive
From ESPN - January 13, 2018

CHANGSHU -- Malaysia kept their hopes of a place in the knockout phase of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship alive as Safawi Rashid's first-half penalty earned Ong Kim Swee's side a 1-1 draw with Jordan on Saturday.

Safawi's spot kick cancelled out Ward Al Barri's opener, with both goals coming in the first half.

Ong and his team will feel they could have taken all three points after Akhyar Rashid and Matthew Davies both hit the post with second-half efforts.

Having lost 4-1 to Iraq on Matchday One of Group C, the result means Malaysia will go into their final game against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday needing to win to have any chance to progress to the last eight in what is their debut appearance at the tournament.

"The late penalty that we had in the first half helped us a lot," Ong said. "We scored, that levelled the game, and it gave them more confidence. That's normal when you play a strong team. You start to believe and we managed to get a point.

"I believe the boys showed good character today. Before the game today, nobody gave us any hope and we almost snatched three points from Jordan, so overall I am proud of the boys.

"Of course, luck plays a little bit of a role, but the work rate of all the players was great. They worked very, very hard and at the end I think with the two chances, if you do not convert you do not win games."

Jordan went into the game without their star player Baha Faisal. He was handed a two-match ban by the Asian Football Confederation for his behaviour following his side's draw against Saudi Arabia, when Iain Brunskill's side surrendered a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes.

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