KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Four days from their crucial 2022 World Cup/2023 Asia Cup qualifier match against Indonesia on Tuesday, the Harimau Malaya squad now have to go into the match with a slightly weakened team due to injuries and suspensions.
Forward Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad and right back Matthew Davies are out of the game through suspension after collecting two yellow cards in their match against Vietnam and Thailand, while Muhammad Syahmi Safari will also not be available after suffering a thigh injury in Malaysia’s victory against Thailand last Thursday.
The setback, however, does not seem too much of a concern for national head coach Tan Cheng Hoe, who believes the remaining fit players are capable of shouldering the task against their regional rivals in the home match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
“We are not thinking of getting replacements as those called in such short notice may feel pressured,” he told reporters when met at the squad’s training session at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Cheras here today.
On the match, Cheng Hoe warned his players not to get carried away with their recent 2-1 upset win over Thailand, and wants them to wary of Indonesia, likening the Garuda squad as a wounded lion after suffering four consecutive defeats in their campaign so far.
Cheng Hoe said the infusion of four new players into the Indonesian squad by caretaker coach, Yeyen Tumena was capable of boosting team spirit as they hunt for that elusive win.
In their campaign so far, Indonesia lost 2-3 to Malaysia, suffered heavy 0-3 and 0-5 defeats to Thailand and United Arab Emirates (UAE) respectively, before losing 1-3 to Group G leaders Vietnam in Hanoi yesterday.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Syahmi is determined to go all out if he manages to overcome his injury in time and gets a chance to play.
The ASEAN Football Federation best forward award recipient has also called on his team mates not to take the Indonesians lightly, saying that despite their defeats, they remain dangerous on the flanks.
“My injury is not that serious and Insya-Allah, it will heal very soon. Given a chance to play, I will give my all for the team,” said the 21-year-old fullback.
Malaysia is now level on six points with UAE after four matches, but UAE remain third in the group as a result of better goal difference. — Bernama