Malaysia suffer shock loss to Laos in AFF U-23 Championship opener

Malaysia threw away a halftime lead to fall to a shock 2-1 loss to Laos in their opening game at the 2022 AFF U-23 Championship on Friday. SPORTFIVE

Malaysia's quest to reach the semifinals of the AFF U-23 Championship have been dealt a real blow, after they opened their Group B campaign on Friday with a shock 2-1 loss to Laos.

Despite leading through A. Selvan's opener on the stroke of halftime, Malaysia went on to conceded twice in the second 45 -- as goals from Bounphachan Bounkong and Petdhevanh Somsanid completed a remarkable fightback by the Laotians.

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Nonetheless, the Malaysians' destiny remains in their own hands as they take on the same opponents once again on Monday with a chance to overturn the deficit in what has become an outright duel for a semifinal berth.

Group B was initially to be contested by four teams but defending champions Indonesia withdrew on the eve of the tournament due to a series of positive coronavirus cases in the squad, before Myanmar also pulled out three days ago for the same reason mere hours before they were due to face Malaysia.

Over in Group A, tournament hosts Cambodia are in pole position to advance having won their first two games to hold a two-point lead over Timor-Leste.

Meanwhile, Thailand have set the early pace in Group C following Wednesday's 3-1 win over Singapore but with Vietnam only getting their campaign underway on Saturday.