Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (left), seen here in action against Qatar last year, has been left out of the national team to Yemen due to a lack of match fitness. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Interim coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has set his mind on claiming his first win with the national senior team when they take on Yemen in the final Asian Cup Group D qualifying match in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday.
Planning for an offensive game, Kim Swee has dropped unfit striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, injured goalkeeper Mohd Khairulazhan Mohd Khalid and defensive midfielders Junior Eldstal and Mohd Shakir Shaari for the trip.
“We will go all out for a win so I have picked an offensive-minded team for the match,” said Kim Swee before leaving for UAE on Sunday.
“Shakir and Junior are defensive players while Khairulazhan picked up a knock on his ankle towards the end of the match against the Philippines. As for Norshahrul, he is lacking match fitness after missing training for nine days.”
Kim Swee is not perturbed by Malaysia’s 0-0 draw against the Philippines at the Selayang Stadium on Saturday.
“We can take a lot of positives from the match. The shortcomings will be rectified before the Yemen match.
“It’s a lesson to the players that they can’t waste the chances. We played well but we need to do better in front of goal,” said Kim Swee.
“The players worked hard and reacted well to my game plan but the midfielders need to be sharper. I believe we will do better against Yemen,” added the former international.
Malaysia have four points from five matches and are third in Group D. Bahrain lead the group with 13 points while Qatar are second on 12. Winless Yemen prop up the group. Bahrain and Qatar have both 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 automatically qualify for the Finals while the best third-placed side of the five groups will join hosts Australia, defending champions Japan, South Korea and North Korea in the 2015 Finals.
Malaysia have a mathematical chance of qualifying as the third best placed team. At present, Malaysia are ranked fourth. Iraq (Group C) are the best third-placed team with six points followed by Lebanon (Group B) with five while three other teams – Malaysia, Syria (Group A) and Hong Kong (Group E) – are tied on four each.