Posted at 07:28h in THE VOICE OF CITY BOYS
It was a reunion of sorts, 350km’s away, south of the capital, in Singapore, between Mendoza and Zhafri, but both were attired in different kits, instead of the familiar Red and White of the City Boys, as they were proudly representing their national team’s, Mendoza for the Philippines, and Zhafri for Malaysia.
However, there is no game time for either in the opening match of the 2022 Tri-Nations Series organised by the Football Association of Singapore, held last night, Wednesday, at the National Stadium.
The 154th ranked Harimau Malaya triumphed over the 129th ranked Azkals, 2-0, with both goals scored in the first half by Akhyar Rashid in the 3rd and 24th minute. It was a dominating performance by newly appointed Kim Pang Gon’s side, in the first meeting in 5 years between both teams. It was also Malaysia”s first win over the Philippines in the past 6 encounters, with the last five ending in draws. (four of the most recent before last night, were scoreless). The win extends Malaysia’s record to 12 victories in the past 20 clashes with the same opponent, losing only twice.
Malaysia’s South Korean gaffer who brought 25 players to this tournament, made 5 substitution’s throughout the match, but there was no space for Zhafri to obtain his first cap.
The Philippines’ head coach, Englishman Stewart Hall, also named 25 players to Singapore, but he opted to start Neil Etheridge of English Football Championship side Birmingham City in goal, instead of Mendoza, who was one of the nominees as breakout stars for the ASEAN
Football Federation’s Suzuki Cup 2020 championship last December. He made 6 changes in the match.
The Harimau Malaya next play the Lions on Saturday, March 26, 2022, and end their tour of duty with a friendly match against Japanese side Albirex Niigata who compete in the Singapore Premier League on Monday, Match 28, 2022. The Azkals wrap their campaign in Albirex Niigata, Singapore, when they face the hosts on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
Let’s hope for Mendoza and Zhafri to gain an opportunity for a run out in their country’s next matches.
The Tri-Nations Series has been organised as part of preparations for the third round of the 2023 Asia Cup qualifying games coming up in June 2022. Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines are out of the race for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but they are still competing for a place in next year’s continental showpiece in China.