PHNOM PENH: The national Under-22 (U-22) squad ended the men’s football competition of the 2023 SEA Games with a morale-boosting victory when they defeated Singapore 7-0 in the final match of Group B at Prince Stadium here today.

In the game, striker T. Saravanan stole the spotlight when he scored four goals and assisted one to become the top scorer of the Harimau Muda squad at the biennial sports event.

The 20-year-old Kuala Lumpur (KL) City FC player put E. Elavarasan’s squad in the lead as early as the 14th minute after his curling shot from inside the penalty box to beat Singapore goalkeeper Muhammad Aizil Mohamed Yazid.

He then played a role in the national team’s second goal after his cross went straight to the head of striker Muhammad Haqimi Azim Rosli in first half injury.

Saravanan made it 3-0 three minutes after the break when a powerful shot from close range saw him capitalise on a mistake by Singapore defender Kieran Teo to clear the ball which hit Muhammad Haqimi’s leg before the ball bounced towards him.

He then completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute after taking advantage of Singapore’s defensive line confusion in the penalty box before scoring his fourth personal goal through a swipe shot that Muhammad Aizil failed to save in the 63rd minute.

Nearing full time, team captain Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi and substitute Mohd Aiman Afif Md Afizul each scored in the 88th minute and second half stoppage time to complete the big win over Singapore.

Elavarasan’s men finished third in Group B with a total of six points from four games behind Thailand and Vietnam and failed to advance to the semi-finals.

For the record, the last time Malaysia won a medal at the SEA Games was in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur by winning silver while the last time it won gold was in Indonesia in 2011. -Bernama

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