Myanmar clash may decide Group A, so which 11 should start for Malaysia?

The Malaysia and Myanmar clash at Shah Alam Stadium on Monday is likely to decide who tops Group A in the on-going SEA Games. Vijhay Vick lists the 11 players that could take the field against the Burmese.

IN GOAL

There are two goalkeepers in the squad and both have played one match each, with Malaysia Under-22 coach Ong Kim Swee saying both are equally good

Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim should really get the nod though. He is a regular at Kedah compared to Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) reserve Haziq Nadzli, and has more experience playing in big matches for club and country.

Ifwat was first-choice at the AFC Under-23 qualifiers in July where Malaysia qualified for the tournament proper for the first time.

DEFENCE

There hasn’t really been a need for a change at the back despite some initial nerves against Brunei in the first match.

Adam Nor Azlin, Irfan Zakaria and skipper Adib Zainuddin have had plenty of playing together since the build up to the AFC qualifiers and a change could unsettle the back-four. Options are not plenty as well for the back-three.

MIDFIELD

Matthew Davies has cemented his place on the right with standout performances against Brunei and Singapore.

Though normally a right-back, he has had little qualms playing in a wing-back role to provide numbers at the back and support when attacking. Davies put in 17 crosses against Brunei alone.

Ariff Farhan Isa seems to be the better option for the left despite being a right-sided player. He did better against Singapore than Syazwan Andik did against Brunei, but will still need to lift his performance against Myanmar.

Ong has utilised four different players in the heart of midfield already and there seems to be a general consensus that Nor Azam Abdul Azih – Malaysia’s game-changer against the Singaporeans – should start the next match.

The Pahang midfielder added bite to Malaysia’s engine room after coming on for Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik at half-time in the 2-1 win.

Syamer Kutty Abba, who had a decent night despite making the error that allowed Singapore to take a first half lead, could take the field alongside side Azam. The lanky midfielder adds a calming presence in the middle and is a good distributor of the ball.