Record scorelines left fans cringing and coaches looking over their shoulders on Friday after an avalanche of goals cruelly exposed the gulf in class at Asia’s World Cup qualifying.
No fewer than 76 goals were rattled in across the continent in Thursday’s 15 games — an average of 5.067 per match, one of the highest on record.
Malaysian supporters were aghast after their team crashed 10-0 against UAE, their worst ever defeat and eclipsing their previous low of 8-2 against New Zealand in 1967.
The New Straits Times newspaper pulled no punches, saying the defeat “can be considered the national team’s biggest humiliation in history”.
“Hey guys, if you are keen on learning how to count from 1 to 10 in Arabic, go and watch the highlights from the game of UAE vs Malaysia,” wrote Amir Azmi on Twitter.
Malaysia at least fared better than tiny Bhutan, who shipped 15 unanswered goals against Qatar — an average of about one every six minutes.
The result was Qatar’s biggest ever win by a distance, almost twice the 8-0 victories they recorded over Afghanistan and Lebanon in the 1980s.
It was also a jolting reality check for Bhutan, who have climbed off the bottom of the world rankings and are competing in the second round of qualifying for the first time.
Several posts on Facebook questioned the appointment of Japanese head coach Norio Tsukitate, who was brought in after Chokey Nima had led the “Dragon Boys” into the second round.
But Bhutan and Malaysia were not the only teams with red faces as Laos lost 8-0 to South Korea, Kuwait pummelled Myanmar 9-0 and Saudi Arabia beat East Timor 7-0.
Iran smashed six without reply against Guam, Iraq beat Taiwan 5-1 and Australia thumped Bangladesh 5-0, with Japan’s 3-0 win over Cambodia looking tepid by comparison.
One game without goals was Hong Kong’s dogged 0-0 draw with China, which was greeted like a victory in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
When Hong Kong held the Chinese football team to a draw. https://t.co/plFtOAYMMm pic.twitter.com/UACp55rUtl
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) September 4, 2015
Heads could roll with Malaysian media casting doubt over the future of coach Dollah Salleh, who fielded three different goalkeepers during Malaysia’s catastrophe in Abu Dhabi.
“Malaysia will play another tough customer No. 93 Saudi Arabia next in four days time (Tuesday) at the Shah Alam Stadium,” The Star newspaper said.
“But the question is whether Dollah will still be around by then?”
Forty teams were initially entered in round two before political interference with the governing body prompted FIFA to ban Indonesia.
The qualifiers also double as a route to the 2019 Asian Cup in UAE, which has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams — raising the prospect of more big scores at the tournament in four years time.