Southeast Asian Games champions Malaysia suffered a 2-0 defeat to Syria in Olympic qualifying Wednesday, just two days after clinching the regional crown in a highly charged final in Jakarta.
Two second-half goals took Syria level on points with Group C leaders Japan in the Asian football qualifying for next year’s Olympics, as Malaysia and Bahrain stayed rooted at the bottom, both yet to score a goal.
Solaiman Solaiman’s 52nd minute goal looked to be the clincher in the tie at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, before substitute Nassouh Nakkdahli made sure for Syria with a second goal in the 88th minute.
The result comes in an eventful week for Malaysia’s under-23 side, after it triumphed in a tragedy-marred final at the SEA Games in Indonesia on Monday.
Two fans died and a boy was left in a coma following a stampede at the evening’s much-anticipated final between Malaysia and hosts Indonesia, which Malaysia won on penalties.
On Tuesday in the other Group C clash, Japan beat Bahrain 2-0, a win that takes them top of Group C, with six points. Syria are second on goal difference, after also winning their first match against Bahrain last month.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s games, followed by another six on Sunday, are the second and third installment of Asia’s final qualifying round, with the top team in each of three groups gaining automatic berths at London 2012.
The three runners-up will enter a round-robin for the prize of a play-off against a team from the African confederation.
Men’s football is played as an under-23 tournament at the Olympics, although the rules allow for three over-age players. The group stage wraps up in March next year.