KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — Malaysia are on the right track to snatch a second consecutive victory in their outing against lower-ranked Taiwan in the Group D second round 2026 World Cup/2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Taipei, on Tuesday.
This follows the dramatic 4-3 conquest by Harimau Malaya under Kim Pan Gon over higher-ranked Kyrgyzstan in their opening group match at the Nasional Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Thursday.
In beating the 97th ranked team in the world, nicknamed The White Falcons, Malaysia (137th) got the much-needed motivation to face the challenge of bringing home three important points against Taiwan, who are ranked 152nd.
On paper, Malaysia are the favourites to win the match at the Taipei Municipal Stadium, but until the final whistle, the fate of Kyrgyzstan who lost to Harimau Malaya despite being ranked better could happen to Pan Gon’s boys.
Based on the record in the last five matches since 2000, Taiwan are invincible at home having won three matches including the last clash in 2018 while losing twice when visiting here.
In fact, the Blue Wings have not lost in three home games this year when they drew with two higher-ranked teams, Thailand 2-2 and the Philippines (1-1) in friendly matches, besides recording a 4-0 win over Timor-Leste in the World Cup qualifying playoffs.
Taiwan, coached by Gary White, has only lost twice this year, losing 1-3 to Singapore in a friendly and Oman (0-3) in the opening match of Group D qualifiers on Thursday, with both being away matches.
Besides the 4-0 thrashing of Timor-Leste, Taiwan’s two other conquests were defeating Timor Leste 3-0 in the second leg of the qualifying round playoffs, and beating the Philippines 3-2 in another friendly in Manila.
After the disappointing opening action, Taiwan will definitely be hunting for a win against Malaysia or at least a draw to revive their chances in the qualifying round campaign.
Malaysia, on the other hand, is only looking for three points in the match as it is one of two must-win away games, in addition to visiting Kyrgyzstan next year, in a history-making mission to advance to the third round of the World Cup Qualifiers for the first time.
Pan Gon is expected to have no problem listing the strongest squad for the match as all the national players are free from serious injuries as of the last training session at Wisma FAM, Kelana Jaya yesterday.
However, the players must give full focus and not underestimate the ability of the opponents to punish the national team for fatal lapses.
Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) winger Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi has the chance to continue his excellent streak after stealing the spotlight with four assists in defeating Kyrgyzstan.
After the action against Taiwan, Malaysia are scheduled to face the 72nd ranked team, Oman away on March 21 next year and host the team on March 26 at home, followed by Kyrgyzstan (June 6) away and meet Taiwan at Bukit Jalil on June 11. — Bernama