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View from the stands: Malaysia XI vs Man Utd – Game 1

July 20, 2009

Asia Tour 2009

I just returned from my trip to Kuala Lumpur where they were playing against a select Malaysia XI. Let me clarify first of all that I have no idea why they call them the select XI, because the team that was put out was the Malaysian national team. The only difference was their jerseys, which was a blue Nike kit, whereas the Malaysian national teams uses a yellow and black striped combo, where they are better known as “The Tigers”.

The crowd was massive and rowdy, and this was all before the United team even showed up, and the first United player to appear on the field was Paul Scholes, and old ginger head got a massive reception. When the team list appeared, United put out what was quite a strong side. The likes of Rooney, Berbatov, Van Der Sar and Ferdinand all started, and that would have scared the bejesus out of many a Premier League team.

However, it was the Malaysians who looked the more livelier in the early part of the game. United looked slow on their feet, while the Malaysians were getting into good places. I did take note that this was United’s first game of their tour, and they also had to deal with the 35degree heat, while the Malaysians were in the middle of their league season, and are well acclimitised to the temperature.

United eventually got their act together, and Wayne Rooney was the scorer. A Berbatov flick was parried away by the Malaysian keeper, but the ball fell kindly infront of Rooney, who blasted it into the top of the net. Rooney was being humble and did not celebrate his goal, a sign of maturity perhaps for a player who more is expected of this season?

United’s 2nd goal came courtesy of Rooney’s run from the left wing, and he nutmegged a few Malaysian defenders, before laying the ball for Nani, who had the simplest task of putting the ball into the net.

Not long after United’s 2nd goal, the fans went quiet, as they realised their national team was getting a lesson in football, and while most people at the stadium are fans of the Red Devils (there were a few in Liverpool jerseys, and I saw a brave man come in a Real Madrid shirt!), I don’t think they wanted their national team to be humiliated.

Nani attempted a bicycle kick, which he sorely did not connect, but this was when the Malaysians came back to life. A long goal kick was directed towards Evra, but he totally mistimed his header, and the ball fell for Yahya, who saw Van Der Sar off his line, and he planted one above the Dutchman, and the crowd went crazy. Game on!

The 2nd half was more of the same, and Malaysia scored their 2nd goal courtesy of a another defensive mistake. A backpass to Ben Foster, who replaced Van Der Sar at halftime, was totally mistimed, and he was out-chased for the ball before having to pick it out from the back of his net. For those who didn’t keep track, this was actually the first touch of the ball for Foster, having missed out on the backpass seconds ago.

As the game wore on, it was clear that the United team was dehydrated, as they kept drinking while the crowd were beginning to call out Owen’s name. The Malaysian fans really have taken to the ex-Kop wearing their coveted No.7 jersey. There was even a fan, who already had Owen and the No.7 printed on his new jersey. He must be a minority!

Owen eventually came on, and the crowd went wild. Owen must have been surprised at the crowd’s reaction, as he gave a surprising wave to the crowd, shown on the stadium television.

His goal came towards the end of the game, when a through ball to Giggs, who looked offside, was halted by the Malaysian keeper, only for Owen to pick up the loose ball, dribble it past the flailing arms of the keeper, and slot it into the bottom corner.

United verdict: Lacklustre, and some players were clearly still in the holiday mood. In the 1st half, they could barely string 10 passes together, and Scholes, Nani and Anderson were very wasteful with the ball. Props should be given to Darron Gibson however, who started the game on the right wing, but played the 2nd half in centre midfield.

Ronaldo replacement watch: Owen clearly isn’t going to be the man to replace Ronaldo. Prior to his goal, Owen totally missed a sitter, where a ball came from the right, fell in front of him, and he had to turn and blast it towards the goal. In fact, he overhit it so bad, the ball went out for a throw in on the left side of the field!

Valencia did not play at all, and Obertan was an unused substitute. Nani, was again wasteful, and although he did score, he also missed a few easy balls, and did not work well with Evra in support. However, I say keep a watch out for Tosic, as he looked very impressive on the left side of midfield. United only got to grips with the game when he was introduced, and I can see him being compared to Ronaldo with his mazy runs and fancy footwork. My only complain would be his tendency to drift inwards, where he isn’t very good with his right foot. Some work by the coaching staff on his right foot and he’ll be good to go into the starting lineup.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 11:51 pm

    i think its normal for players to not celebrate excessively when scoring a goal in a friendly. remember last year when they went to south africa, rooney ran 40-50 yards and nutmegged the keeper then walked leisurely back to the center circle.

    although, nani was an exception. he was so happy to score that goal but was surprised that no one was running towards him to celebrate the goal. lol. priceless.

  2. Jac permalink
    July 21, 2009 10:08 pm

    Fans should support the team, not the player.
    Good post though! :)

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