BANGKOK – Malaysia kicked their 2007 Asean Football Championship campaign off with a 4-0 defeat of the Philippines in Bangkok on Friday thanks to a double from Hairuddin Omar, a close-range strike from Nizarudin Yusof and an own goal from Anton Del Rosario. The victory made it three Asean Football Championship wins out of three for the Tigers over the Philippines after they routed them 7-0 in the inaugural competition in 1996 and 4-1 when the two squared off in the group stage of the last tournament in Kuala Lumpur.
The 1996 runners-up went ahead after just eight minutes when Hairuddin headed home a cross from the right and to make matters worse for the Philippines skipper Ally Borromeo had to be replaced by Alvin Ocampo after the statuesque California-born stopper picked up a knee injury in the lead up to the goal. Eight minutes later and the Malaysians doubled their advantage when Nizarudin Yusof hooked the ball home after Hairuddin headed Irwan Fadzli Idrus's corner against the Philippines' crossbar. Hairuddin had the ball in the back of the net three minutes after the interval but referee Abbas Daud had spotted an infringement before the Pahang striker had headed home Hardi Jaafar's free-kick. The Philippines made some occasional forays into the Malaysian half in an attempt to get back into the game and with 20 minutes left to play they had the ball in the net, only it was at the wrong end. Second half substitute Eddy Helmi, who was clearly in an offside position when he took possession, cut the ball across the Philippines penalty area where it was met by the outstretched leg of Del Rosario and deflected past the luckless Louie Casas. Ten minutes later Casas was beaten for the fourth time when Hairuddin collected a perfectly threaded pass from Hardi, shook off the attentions of Johanne Sablon and slotted the ball past the San Beda College keeper to seal a comfortable win for the Malaysians. It was a deserved win for the Tigers but Philippines coach Aris Caslib must be ruing the early loss of influential skipper Borromeo, who will now be a serious doubt for their remaining matches against Myanmar and hosts Thailand.