Cambodia vs Malaysia Preview: Tan Cheng Hoe and team must make amends
Redemption for Malaysia to bounce back after the limp loss to Chinese Taipei.
Malaysia can put swiftly put away the disappointment of losing to Chinese Taipei with a win against Cambodia.
But victory won’t come easy, as the Cambodians are galvanized by the arrival of their new superstar head coach and manager Keisuke Honda.
The Japanese has had a week with his new charges, and after watching Malaysia fall to Chinese Taipei, will be confident of delivering another blow.
Cambodia also have quality players in their ranks who can make a difference.
Chan Vathanaka did not have the best of spells with Pahang FA, but the forward is at home in front of his home fans and will be fired-up to put on a good show against familiar faces.
For Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe, a win is a must.
Tan had an issue with the pitch at Taipei Municipal Stadium in the 2-0 loss to Chinese Taipei, but his players were also uninspired and did not trouble their opponents too much.
Tan could field a different line-up for this game, with Shahrel Fikri, R. Kogileswaran and Akhyar Rashid all slated to start.
He needs the backline of Shahrul Saad, Irfan Zakaria and Fazly Mazlan to be more alert, while Nazmi Faiz and Nik Akif Syahiran have to stamp their authority in midfield.
Tan could put Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in goal, and start with Shahrel Fikri who was benched in the last game.
Nashir Basharuddin could come in as the anchorman to replace Akram Mahinan.
But most importantly, Tan needs to start with Akhyar if he wants Malaysia to have more bite upfront.
Shahrel, Akhyar and Kogileswaran could be the front three that will give him pace and energy upfront.
Player to watch
Shahrel has yet to break his duck in national colours, so you can expect him to be on the hunt if he comes on. The striker recently opened accounts for Nakhon Ratchasima, and will want to use those goalscoring boots for Malaysia.
Facts and Figures
* Malaysia went on a 16-month winless streak after beating Cambodia at the group stage of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup. They finally ended that rut with a 7-0 win over Bhutan in April
* Keisuke Honda will be paid nothing for his role as manager and coach of Cambodia. He offered to take up the role, but Cambodia will pay for his flight expenses
* Four Cambodians played in Malaysia this year. Thierry Chanta Bin, Prak Mony Udom, Chan Vathanaka and Keo Sokpheng could all play a part against Malaysia
Cambodia 1 Malaysia 1: It will be difficult for Malaysia to come away with a win against this revitalized Cambodia side at their home. The wave of support for Honda to get a result is strong