Amid tight security, the Malaysian football squad returned home triumphantly via a chartered plane right after clinching the gold medal at the SEA Games.
Malaysia beat Indonesia 4-3 on penalties to take the gold in a hotly-anticipated U-23 football final at the SEA Games in Jakarta on Monday night (21 Nov).
Malaysia's captain Baddrol Bakhtiar converted the winning penalty, while Indonesia missed two of their spot-kicks after the match had finished 1-1 after extra time. In a game lacking quality, but packed with incident, the hosts took a deserved lead after five minutes when centre-back Gunawan Dwi Cahyo popped up unmarked at the back post to head in a corner. However, Malaysia regrouped, despite the deafening roar of the home fans, to equalise in the 33rd minute with a diving header by Omar Muhammad Asraruddin after some suspect defending by the hosts.
The game saw chances for both sides throughout the second-half, with Malaysia spurning two gilt-edged chances after sloppy defending from Indonesia's erratic backline, while the hosts had a goal disallowed. Malaysia's defence, having conceded three goals in six matches, nullified the threat of Papuan forwards Titus Bonai and Patrich Wanggai who menaced but created little in the way of direct chances.
Indonesia, chasing their first Southeast Asian Games title for two decades, had a second goal ruled out in the first period of extra time to the disbelief of their passionate home support. It was all Indonesia for the second period of extra time, though, as the Malaysians began to tire but dogged defending by the visitors took the game to penalties. After two misses by Indonesia, Bakhtiar coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net. Despondent fans streamed out of the stadium, aware they have two years to wait before they will have another shot at winning the coveted football gold.