Ong vows to field best team, no longer experimenting

Malaysia head coach Ong Kim Swee will ditch his intentions to test players against New Caledonia after the team drew heavy criticism following their 2-0 loss to Papua New Guinea last Friday. 

The Malaysians went to Oceania in hopes of building an equipped squad for important challenges ahead – the AFF Suzuki Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers – and to improve the national team’s ranking.

But most of that “will be thrown out of the window” as critics had a field day after the Tigers lost their opening match to world-ranked 193rd Papua New Guinea.

Ong Kim Swee now intends to scrap plans on testing different combination of players against New Caledonia on Wednesday. The Malaysians, ranked 173rd in the world, play Fiji on June 22 before returning home.

“Results are apparently more important than team building. All the plans to give exposure has been thrown out of the window,” said Ong.

Ong is expected to field an identical line-up to the one that faced Timor Leste in the Asian Cup qualifying playoff earlier this month.

Izham Tarmizi Roslan, Fazly Mazlan, S. Kunanlan, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, Amirul Hadi Zainal and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri are among those expected to return while Shahrom Kalam is likely to miss the match after being forced off against Papua New Guines due to injury.

There will be no horsing around this time, with several regulars set to start. Photo: Selangor

The Tigers have sent back Mahali Jasuli due to a knee injury and are expecting custodian Khairul Fahmi Che Mat to join the national team late on Tuesday after he was initially barred from leaving Malaysia due to income tax arrears.

Stand-in skipper Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, deputising for Safiq Rahim, expects another tough match and called on his teammates to ensure the Tigers bounce back from Friday’s defeat.

“We watched videos of New Caledonia’s game and know it will be another tough match ahead … like against Papua New Guinea. It’s is important how we regroup. The preparation we had have been as if we are entering a big match, so it’s important that we get a good result,” said Aidil.

Photo: Football Association of Malaysia