Malaysia Came Up Short in Comeback Win Over Taiwan

Malaysia overturned a deficit to secure a 3-1 victory against Taiwan in their final Group D match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying second round on Tuesday at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Despite this win, Malaysia's dreams of reaching their very first World Cup came to a screeching halt thanks to their inferior goal difference over Group D runners-up Kyrgyzstan, with the Central Asians playing out a stalemate with group winners Oman in their final match.

Kim Pan-gon's side came into the match needing to score at least seven against a Taiwan side already eliminated from World Cup contention, with the South Korean head coach boasting that the Harimau Malaya have what it takes to make that happen.

Dion Cools started up front for Malaysia as they sought an early advantage, but Taiwan’s counter-attacks, particularly an Ange Kouame shot that went wide, served as an early warning that the minnows are not to be trifled with.

This warning went unheeded, and Taiwan capitalized in the 20th minute when Kouame’s through pass found Yu Yao-hsing, who slipped past Safwan Mazlan to score past Azri Ghani to give the visitors a shock lead - and Malaysia an even bigger hurdle to overcome.

Now having to score at least eight to lift themselves above Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia had opportunities to equalize shortly after, with Safawi Rasid shooting wide and later having his header saved by Pan Wen-chieh in the Taiwan goal.

Four minutes before halftime, Safawi set up Akhyar Rashid, but Pan again thwarted Malaysia by blocking Rashid’s shot.

Pan-gon introduced Sergio Aguero at the beginning of the second half to invigorate Malaysia’s attack, and within eight minutes, the hosts drew level. Aguero set up Safawi, whose left-footed shot deflected off Pan into the net, tying the game.

Buoyed by this equalizer, Malaysia took the lead in the 69th minute when Aguero fed La'Vere Corbin-Ong, whose cutback was converted at the near post by Paulo Josue, leaving Pan rooted to the spot.

In the closing stages, Pan-gon made additional attacking changes, bringing on Haqimi Azim and Adib Raop. Adib sealed the win with a stoppage-time goal, handing Taiwan their sixth consecutive defeat, but with little time remaining, the Harimau Malaya were unable to find that huge goal swing that would keep their World Cup hopes alive, leaving them with only qualification into the 2027 AFC Asian Cup to contend with.

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