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Flare-throwing fans halt Malaysia World Cup qualifier vs Saudi Arabia

Shah Alam, Malaysia: Malaysia's football World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia was suspended on Tuesday after angry fans hurled flares at the pitch, which billowed smoke and forced players and officials to take cover.

Saudi Arabia's players walk off the pitch after flares were thrown by fans during their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Malaysia at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday. The match was abandoned after the incident, which took place while Malaysia was 1-2 down in the 88th minute. The home fans, reportedly incensed at last week’s record 0-10 defeat to UAE, lit and threw fireworks on the pitch which filled the arena with smoke and led to players and team officials being escorted to the changing rooms.  Pic/AFP
Saudi Arabia's players walk off the pitch after flares were thrown by fans during their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Malaysia at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday. The match was abandoned after the incident, which took place while Malaysia was 1-2 down in the 88th minute. The home fans, reportedly incensed at last week’s record 0-10 defeat to UAE, lit and threw fireworks on the pitch which filled the arena with smoke and led to players and team officials being escorted to the changing rooms. Pic/AFP

With Malaysia 2-1 down in the 88th minute at Shah Alam Stadium, fans incensed after last week's record 10-0 defeat to UAE lit and threw flares which filled the arena with smoke. Players and team officials were escorted to the changing rooms and Saudi supporters were seen leaving the stadium.

Play was suspended but no immediate decision was taken to abandon the match. "Match stopped because fans threw flares onto the pitch," said a Malay-language Twitter update by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). About a dozen flares trailing orange smoke -- as well as loud fireworks -- were let off by home fans.

Unconfirmed reports said two Saudi supporters had been attacked. Officials said the match commissioner would decide shortly whether it is safe to proceed with the match.

Malaysia's interim coach Ong Kim Swee had earlier urged fans not to disrupt the game in protest at last week's loss in Abu Dhabi, which prompted former handler Dollah Salleh to quit. FAM president Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah has also said he would step aside. Earlier in qualifying, Malaysia were held 1-1 at home by East Timor and lost 6-0 to Palestine.

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