After an embarrassing defeat by Papua New Guinea on Friday, Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee is expected to field his strongest against New Caledonia on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper: Izham Tarmizi Roslan
This Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) custodian was among those that sat out of the 2-0 loss to Papua New Guinea last week.
But having translated his club form to the international stage, Izham may have already won the battle with Khairul Fahmi Che Mat for the No.1 jersey.
Khairul Fahmi is expected to join the squad in New Caledonia, after being forced to stay back in Malaysia to settle income tax related matters.
Left-back: Fazly Mazlan
Still only 22, Fazly is already looking integral to the team’s attacking play. Remarkably he has only played five times for the national team.
This Southern Tigers’ youngster is tough at the back and always eager to run at defenders at the other end. He was among the star performers against Timor Leste in the Asian Cup qualifying playoff at the start of June.
Centre-back: Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak
The stand-in captain will return in the heart of defence after Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee tested the Shahrom Kalam-Fadhli Shas combination in the previous match.
Aidil will add much needed composure at the back, especially with the absence of Selangor captain Shahrom, who was forced off due to injury on Friday.
Centre-back: Fadhli Shas
Having being part of the Tigers squad since 2010, this former Harimau Muda defender needs no further introduction to international football.
He has dropped down the pecking order in the national side but is an able replacement for Shahrom alongside Aidil.
Aidil and Fadhli have played together for club and country many times already.
Right-back: S. Kunanlan
There isn’t a better right-back in the country at present and like Fazly, Kunanlan is difficult to beat at the back and loves to overlap the winger.
Kunanlan and Azrif Nasrulhaq often interchange positions during the match and can play on either sides of the pitch, providing Malaysia with options.
Left-wing: Christie Jayaseelan
Christie is a workhorse on the pitch that is able to burst past opponents and is quick in helping his defenders when needed.
He played in the first leg against Timor Leste on June 2 but missed the return leg four days later due to food poisoning.
The Felda United winger turns 30 in August but has yet to establish himself in the national team due to injuries.
Central-midfield: Baddrol Bakhtiar
This Kedah stalwart has only missed one match – the 6-0 loss to Palestine in October – since Ong took charge and it is easy to tell why.
Baddrol tends to have an off game every now and then but when he is at his best, the 28-year-old also breaks down opponents’ attack, switches play and moves into attacking positions.