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Possible Malaysia XI vs North Korea: What changes could be in store?

Having named several squad changes for the Asian Cup qualifiers in November, Malaysia coach Nelo Vingada is expected to rejuvenate his starting line-up against North Korea on Friday. Vijhay Vick picks the 11 he might go with …

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GOALKEEPER: IZHAM TARMIZI ROSLAN

A dependable deputy for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) following Farizal Marlias’s long ban in June, Izham has yet to make an appearance under Vingada. He was in the squad to face Lebanon in June but Khairul Azhan Khalid was given the nod.

But Izham has been in better form than the Selangor custodian and should get the nod.

LEFT-BACK: FAZLY MAZLAN

Arguably the best left-back in the country, it is puzzling that it has been over a year since Fazly made his last appearance for the national side.

Now back again, there couldn’t be a clearer option on the left side of defence than Fazly.

Nazirul Naim Che Hashim has put in tough shifts in previous matches but he doesn’t seem like a long-term option.

CENTRE-BACK: FADHLI SHAS

Having missed international football over the past one month due to a series of small injuries, Fadhli’s return is timely.

Malaysia have not looked convincing in the heart of defence and Fadhli has been arguably the best local centre-back in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) this season – even without a foreign defensive partner following Marcos Antonio’s knee injury in July.

CENTRE-BACK: SHAHROM KALAM

Junior Eldstal would have been ideal because having a complete JDT back-five – including the custodian – would give Malaysia familiarity, but the lanky defender pulled out of the squad due to personal reasons, leaving Shahrom in the line-up again.

Adam Nor Azlin is another candidate but he was previously thought to be not ready to feature in a back-four after playing most of 2017 in a three-man defence at Selangor and the Malaysia Under-22 side.

RIGHT-BACK: S. KUNANLAN

Kunanlan is expected to make his first appearance since announcing his return from retirement in March.

Kunanlan has bags of energy and has been consistent for a few years now.

Rizal Ghazali and Matthew Davies’ exclusion means the JDT stalwart does not have many competitors for a starting spot.