OKS believes inexperienced squad can surprise
Despite admitting that his side is light on experience, Malaysia head coach Ong Kim Swee believes his side will be able to match up with its Singaporean counterparts.
Among the new faces is Johor Darul Ta’zim II’s English-born forward Darren Lok, while the likes of Matthew Davies and Perak midfielder Nasir Basharudin were left out of the final squad brought to Singapore for the Causeway Challenge.
Yet Ong believes the Tigers will respond to criticism aimed at them recently and his players will try to stake their claims for a place in his Suzuki Cup plans.
Malaysia lost 3-0 in their last friendly match against an Indonesian side making its return to international football, prompting an outcry from the fans.
“There is a lot to say after our loss to Indonesia but I know our players know what their responsibilities are,” Ong said at the pre-match press conference in Singapore.
“I can see after a few days of training with the young boys and new faces, they look eager, and everybody is looking to impress me so I hope tomorrow they will prove to me what they can do.”
Ong also believes this game will be a good test for the Tigers, especially since Singapore could be potential rivals in the semi-finals or final, provided both nations advance out of their respective groups.
Singapore is in a tough looking Group A along with Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines. Malaysia are in the other group with Myanmar, Vietnam and the winner from the qualifying rounds.
“Definitely it’s going to be an interesting game here, both teams are preparing for the Suzuki cup,” Ong added.
“Hopefully we benefit from this game and definitely we are looking for a good result and our objective is to prepare for the Suzuki Cup.”
Malaysia will be aiming to address their defensive fragility in this game, as the retirement of Aidil Zaquan has left Ong without his best centre-back.
The Malaysia coach has tested out various combinations in training and he revealed he is still undecided on whom to pick.
“Definitely it will be a different kind of game where Singapore is playing at home, I expect them to press us early," he said.
“We have trained for the past three days on a few combinations at the back and by tomorrow we can settle on a back four and hopefully we can manage.”
For the match against Singapore, Ong has turned to Terengganu forward Norshahrul Idlan to guide his younger teammates.
The 30-year-old was not in Ong’s squad initially but he managed to force his way back into the head coach’s plans and found himself selected as one of the 25-man squad playing against Singapore on October 7.
“We know that Norshahrul is not only a good player but of course with his experience, he will help us in the game and off the field because we have a lot of young players," Ong said.
“I believe Norhsharul can guide them on the international level.”