Ong Kim Swee believes in his Tigers
Much has changed in the Malaysian camp since war-torn Palestine ripped them apart 6-0 in their very own backyard at Bukit Jalil Stadium last June.
It was the beginning of the end of Dollah Salleh’s national team career as the coach then led Harimau Malaya to their worst ever defeat in another infamous loss to United Arab Emirates (UAE) that September.
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 fixture are in the squad.
Ong expects a tough match but told those present at the pre-match press conference in Jordan that his team have it in them to upset the order.
“We came here five days ago to acclimatise and the players seem to be adapting well. I believe the boys are ready,” Ong said.
“It is important we stay focussed and be very discipline throughout the game … like in the past few games we played. If we can do that again, I believe we can get a good result.
“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 victories against Laos and Timor Leste, Malaysia had not won a single match in 2015 and only found the back of the net once during that period.
Photo: Football Association of Malaysia