Football

Published: Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 6:27:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 10:26:29 PM

Teamwork crucial in decider against Yemen

PETALING JAYA: Defender Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin believes that teamwork will be a crucial factor in Malaysia’s final Asian Cup qualifier Group D match against Yemen at the Sheikh Tahnoon Stadium in Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates on March 5.

The Armed Forces centreback, who is called Taj, also reckons that interim national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee would opt for the tried and tested formula when the team report for centralised training at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Wednesday.

A total of 25 players have been called up, with the majority being the seniors who used to play under former coach Datuk K. Rajagopal.

Taj, 27, explained that this made sense as the current crop of national players understand each other’s game well.

“We have only two weeks to prepare, so I reckon it is wise for the coach to stick with a tested game plan,” said the 1.85m-tall defender.

“It’ll be easier to work with the regulars as we understand each other better. However, I think the key is to improve on the teamwork between the players for now.

“I thank the coach for believing in my abilities and calling me up to the national team. I will work hard to break into the first team,” said Taj, who is expected to partner Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak at centreback.

Kim Swee’s men will play a friendly against the Philippines national team at the Selayang Stadium on March 1 before facing Yemen.

In the Asian Cup qualifying campaign, Malaysia have four points from five matches and are third in Group D. Bahrain lead the group with 13 points and Qatar are second with 12. Winless Yemen prop up the group. Bahrain and Qatar have qualified for the Finals in Australia in 2015.

The top two teams from the five groups at the end of the home-and-away round-robin qualifiers will automatically make the Finals while the best third-placed side of the five groups will join hosts Australia, defending champions Japan, South Korea and North Korea at the 2015 tournament.

Malaysia have a mathematical chance of qualifying – as the third best placed team.

At present, Malaysia are ranked fourth. Iraq (Group C) are currently the best third-placed team with six points followed by Lebanon (Group B) with five points while three other teams – Malaysia, Syria (Group A) and Hong Kong (Group E) – are tied on four points each.

Tags / Keywords: football, Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin, Yemen, Asian Cup, Ong Kim Swee, Rajagopal

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