Malaysia's opening AFF Suzuki Cup win featured the good, the bad and the ugly

As far as positive starts to a tournament go, Malaysia could not have asked for a better one -- at least in terms of the result -- than their 3-1 win over Cambodia in their opening AFF Suzuki Cup Group B game on Monday.

Yet as far as what Harimau Malaya actually served up on the pitch, it was certainly a mixed bag.

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First, the good. Overall, Malaysia showed plenty of positives with most of their attacking talent causing the Cambodians all sorts of problems.

Akhyar Rashid was deservedly named man of the match for an electric display down the left, winning the penalty that was converted by Safawi Rasid for the opening goal in the 23rd minute before doubling his team's tally shortly after the hour mark.

While Safawi did not deliver the starring display many might have expected, he still contributed throughout the game.

In goal, Khairul Fahmi was absolutely dominant and was unlucky to not keep a clean sheet, having been harshly penalised for a challenge inside the area that led to Cambodia's consolation from the penalty spot.

Even the substitutes shone after coming on, with Luqman Hakim Shamsudin and Kogileswaran Raj combining well for Malaysia's third.

But there was also the bad. A shaky start to proceedings, which allowed the opposition to threaten especially down the wings.

Junior Eldstal, whose purpose in the side was to provide a shield in front of the defence, was sloppy on the ball and constantly robbed in possession inside his own half as he looked severely off the pace. Understandably, but perhaps surprisingly given the boldness of its nature, it led to Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe replacing Eldstal after just 27 minutes.

With his replacement Mukhairi Ajmal on the pitch, Malaysia looked far less porous in the middle of the park, and, while Tan labelled the early switch a 'tactical' one, he did concede that his side showed many weaknesses they must improve on.

And then, there was also the ugly.

Having been naturalised in the hope he would be the answer to Harimau Malaya's lack of a dominant out-and-out striker, the Brazilian-born Guilherme struggled to have an influence and was hauled off in the 65th minute.

His displeasure was clear for all to see as he kicked a couple of bottles in anger as he made his way around the pitch back to the bench.

Then, as he turned around the corner flag and approached a band of Malaysian supporters, he received a round of applause only to stare them down all the way as he trodded half the length of the field.

And, as if the point had not been made enough, a bottle -- probably the solitary one he had not lashed out at with his feet -- could then be seen smashing against the back of his own dugout as he disappeared straight into the dressing room.

"As a coach, I will handle this matter," said Tan, when asked by ESPN about the incident.

"I think because he's giving his best in training and is very committed, this is sometimes due to frustration because he couldn't get a goal.

"I'm sure he's mature enough to handle the situation. I hope he can be motivated and set a good example for the team and I'm sure he will be ready for the next game."

Tan will certainly need all of his players not only motivated but onside with far tougher tests ahead in their Suzuki Cup campaign.

Following Thursday's next game against Laos, the lowest-ranked side in the group, Malaysia face off against defending champions Vietnam in a rematch of the 2018 final before finishing against neighbours Indonesia.

Those latter ties will be against two of their fiercest competitors, which is fitting given the current edition of the tournament has opted for the slogan "rivalries never die".

And that is also why it is quite unfortunate -- and ugly -- that after the opening round of matches at the Suzuki Cup, the biggest rivalry that has been on show so far has been between a player and his own supporters.