Malaysian caretaker coach Ong Kim Swee has given his charges a confidence boost ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Palestine on Thursday, saying the players are capable of getting a result.
Much has changed in the Malaysian camp since war-torn Palestine ripped them apart 6-0 in their own backyard at Bukit Jalil Stadium in June.
It was the beginning of the end of Dollah Salleh’s national team coaching career – guiding Harimau Malaya to their worst ever defeat in that infamous 10-0 loss to United Arab Emirates (UAE) in September before falling on his sword.
This time around, the backroom staff is different and so are the players. Only three – Safiq Rahim, Amri Yahyah and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri – of the 14 that featured in the earlier fixtures are in the squad.
Ong Kim Swee expects a tough match but told those present at the pre-match press conference in Jordan his team has what it takes to cause an upset.
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“We came here five days ago to acclimatise and the players seem to be adapting well. I believe the boys are ready,” said Ong.
“It is important we stay focused and be very disciplined throughout the game … like in the past few games we played. If we can do that again, I believe we can get a good results.
“We don’t want to lose again. It was sad to lose by a big margin in the first match. It would not be easy again, for sure.
“Palestine have already held UAE and Saudi Arabia in the group, showing they are among the best teams in the group.”
The Palestinians have not lost in the competition since their opening day 3-2 defeat to Saudi Arabia in June.
In contrast, the Malaysians are making baby steps towards improvement after a torrid nine-month winless streak. Prior to last month’s wins over Laos and Timor Lester, Malaysia had not won a single match in 2015 and only found the back of the net once during that period.
Photos: Football Association of Malaysiacomments