Finally, after four decades of wait, our beloved Malaysian team qualifies for the Asian Cup after a glorious 4-1 triumph over the Bangladeshi national team yesterday at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Despite losing to Bahrain a few days ago, the Harimau Malaya team walked to the field with high spirits as they were serenaded by chants from more or less 60,000 Malaysian supporters present yesterday.

The Kim Pan-gon-led squad fought their way to second place and earned their seat at the Asian Cup finals together with Bahrain, after winning 1-0 against Turkmenistan.

The Malaysian squad looked different last night with usual suspect Farizal Marlias left out of the game after the much-talked-about error during the Bahrain game.

Captained by Syafiq Ahmad, Malaysia featured a powerful team last night that includes the in-form Dion Cools, Syamer Kutty and Azam Azih with the likes of Nazmi Faiz, Dominic Tan and veteran Safiq Rahim on the sidelines.

JDT attacker Safawi Rashid opened the scoresheet after Matthew Davies helped win a penalty in the 16th minute but was cancelled out after a blazing header from Mohammad Ibrahim in the 31st.

Not long after that, Dion Cools rose and stroked in a sensational effort that led to a goal that quickly paralyzed the Bangladeshi defence from the 38th minute and onwards.

Captain Syafiq Ahmad made his mark in the game by scoring the third goal before super sub-Darren Lok closed the night with the fourth.

The victory filled the Bukit Jalil air with joy once again after an actionless era during the pandemic. Kim Pan-gon, and not forgetting Tan Chang Hoe who played a part in laying the groundwork for this success, both showed what the Harimau Malaya team could be if they put their mind, hard work and tactics into it.

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