Malaysia hold China in Olympic qualifier

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> A goal by Akmal Rizal five minutes from stoppage time gave Malaysia a 1-1 away draw to China in Asian Group A Olympic football qualifier in Wuhan.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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A goal by Akmal Rizal five minutes from stoppage time gave Malaysia a shock 1-1 away draw to China in an Asian Group A Olympic qualifier on Saturday in Wuhan. Expecting an easy three points against a weakened Malaysian team, China opened the scoring in the 20th minute through Cao Ming. But some uninspired play by the Chinese allowed Malaysia to avoid any further damage and allowed the visitors their late equalizer, putting a serious dent in China's hopes of qualification for Athens. A cold and wet night in Wuhan didn't dampen Chinese enthusiasm as they hosted Malaysia on Saturday. Favourites China got straight to work, nearly opening their account when Cao Ming got his head to a Yu Tao cross, only to see it cleared off the line by Malaysia defender Norhafiz Zamani. In the 20th minute, China got their opening goal when Xu Liang directed Sun Xiang's corner kick into the far corner of the Malaysian net. Just before half-time, China were unlucky that referee Suresh Srinivasan was unimpressed as Cao Ming was dragged down in the penalty area by Malaysia's Irwan Fadzli. The replay shows an incredulous Cao perhaps had good reason to claim a penalty. That missed opportunity would haunt China in the second half. Cao Ming nearly scored a second Chinese goal but found the woodwork instead. Malaysia had few chances during the match. Some poor Chinese play led to Malaysian skipper Akmal Rizal's effort which Chinese goalkeeper An Qi saved. Rizal was then off-target with the rebound. But with five minutes to go, Akmal Rizal had another chance and this time he got the goal to make it 1-1. Moments later the final whistle sounded with Malaysia pulling off a shock 1-1 draw. The result seriously dents the Olympic hopes of China, who are now locked at one point apiece with Malaysia at the foot of the Group A standings. South Korea lead the group on six points while Iran now look forward to further tormenting China when the two meet on March 27th in Wuhan. Malaysia host South Korea on March 24th in their next Group A match. (AP)

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