Team Malaysia left it late in the game to become the new Football champions after defeating Egypt 1-0 (after extra time) in the finals of the 2016 Nations Cup Football event. Both teams failed to break the deadlock after completing both halves of the game, before Kavin Kumar slotted home a late penalty in the second half of extra time to secure the gold medal spot. The Rest of the World team snapped up 3rd place after overcoming Mauritius in the third place playoff.
A massive crowd of spectators began filling up the venue as the players started warming up. The atmosphere was electrified with the never-ending cheers thrown out by the enthusiastic crowd. Every inch of space available on the sidelines was taken up by the spectators, each trying to get the best possible view of the highly anticipated football men’s final between Malaysia and Egypt. Flags were displayed and the national anthem of the respective countries were sung with pride. When the whistle blew, signalling kick-off, the chants in support of the countries had already begun.
The game was intense from the very first minute. Egypt dominated the game initially, and in the first few minutes itself Ibra scored a goal by attempting Maradona’s famous Hand of God, except in this case, it was promptly disallowed and given a yellow card.
The rest of the half was uneventful, albeit intense. Both teams failed to find the net as the half-time whistle was blown.
They entered into the second half with the score still 0-0. It was now Malaysia’s turn to dominate the game play. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd did not diminish for even a second as they cheered on relentlessly. However the only eventful thing in the rest of this half was a foul on an Egyptian player Tolba, which resulted in the Malaysian defender getting a yellow card. Tolba seemed to be injured as he was down for a few minutes, but resumed playing soon.
The game went into 8 minutes of extra time (4 minutes each half) as the score was still 0-0 when the full-time whistle blew. The anticipation was high as a penalty shootout now seemed likely. But in the dying moments of the second half, a bad tackle by an Egyptian defender inside the penalty area resulted in Malaysia being granted a penalty kick. It was taken by Kavin, the captain of the team and top scorer in the tournament, and his shot found the back of the net which sent the Malaysian supporters wild. Egypt could not come up with a response in the last few moments, and the game finally ended with Malaysia emerging victorious.
This is what Kavin had to say about the match:
It was a really tough match, both of the teams played well. Egypt put up a really good fight. We were all tired and injured, but despite all this, we had the will and desire to win and had only one thing in mind, to win the gold medal for our country. Congratulations and my big respect to my fellow Egyptian friends on making it into the final and making it a great one.
On behalf of Dinho (Egypt’s captain), Sameeh (an Egypt player) said:
It was a game worthy of a final. It was very tough. Both the teams deserved to win the gold. It went into extra time. It was really hard to decide the winner until the last few minutes when Malaysia got the penalty, I say luck played its role in the end. Congratulations to them, and to Kavin, my friend, who scored the winning goal. We will come back stronger than before, I promise.
To reiterate Sameeh, it was definitely a game worthy of a final. With its high intensity, both on the field and among the supporters, drama, action and edge-of-the seat moments, this game was definitely one to remember.
A hearty congratulations to Malaysia on securing the gold medal in the Football event, and to Egypt as well, on putting up such an incredible fight.
By Samawiyah Mohamed Nadeem Ulde
Photographs by Hariz Danial