Malaysia vs Papua New Guinea: Hosts desperate to get things right
Tiger’s last test before the AFF Suzuki Cup.
It may just be a friendly but Malaysia cannot afford to take the match lightly. With the AFF Suzuki Cup just around the corner, the tie against Papua New Guinea – who defeated Malaysia 2-0 during the Oceania Tour – is the Tigers’ final match before finalising a squad of 22 and flying to Myanmar for the group stage.
The match kicks-off at 3pm, unusual for home international matches, due to the need to get the players accustomed to playing under the heat. Malaysia’s first two group matches against Cambodia and Vietnam also kick-off at 3pm in Yangon.
Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee has called-up what many feel is a second-string side due to various circumstances, but none of that will matter when the Suzuki Cup kicks-off as Malaysia simply must get things right.
The squad is wearingly thin following four international retirements, injuries and surprising exclusions but the long list of absentees have created the opportunity for the likes Shahrul Saad, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Hadin Azman, Safawi Rasid and untested Darren Lok to stake their claim in the national team.
Malaysia only scrapped a 4-3 win in a closed door friendly with Malaysia under-22 on Friday and if the players harbour any ambition of making it beyond Suzuki Cup group stage, a massive boost to their performance is needed.
Perak’s Nasir Basharuddin is already out of the squad due to a reoccurring groin injury while reserve left-back Ahmad Khuzaimi Piee appeared to have picked up a hamstring injury on Friday.
The squad remains unchanged but Ong could call-up Khair Jones to provide cover for Nazirul at left-back.
Ong has big decisions to make on who to partner Shahrom Kalam in central defence, pick between in-form Rizal Ghazali and Matthew Daview at right-back and who to fill up the flanks with.
Amri and Syazwan Zainon started against Malaysia under-22 while the likes of Hadin Azman, Safawi Rasid and even Ahmad Hazwan Bakri could be given the nod on Monday.
Facts and figures
- The Tigers have not won since Safiq, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, S. Kunanlan and Amirulhadi Zainal retired in July.
- Malaysia's last win came in an unrecorded international friendly against New Caledonia in June. Malaysia won 2-1.
- The two teams have played each other only three times with Papua New Guinea defeating Malaysia 2-0 in June. Malaysia won 10-1 in friendly in 1976 and 5-1 at the 1984 Merdeka Tournament.
Malaysia 1 Papua New Guinea 1: Unbeaten at home this year, Malaysia may serve up another dull draw in Shah Alam.