Players may play in different roles due to tight schedule


Reinforcement: Coach Cheng Hoe is expected to call up Penang’s Sam Somerville or national Under-22 goalkeeper Azri Ghani to replace Khairulazhan.

PETALING JAYA: Several Harimau Malaya players may find themselves in unknown territory for the remainder of the AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore.

Due to the tight schedule and the unavailability of goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid and winger Faisal Halim, coach Tan Cheng Hoe is forced to tinker with his players to get through the tight schedule.

Admitting that the move is full of risks, Cheng Hoe is optimistic that his players can execute the task despite being delegated to different positions.

“We have some seniors and young players who are capable of carrying out the task and maintaining balance in the team.

“If you look at the schedule, we have three matches in a row two days apart, that’s why each player must be prepared for the possibility of filling in for other positions,” he said at the virtual press conference yesterday.

Khairulazhan and Faisal tested positive for Covid-19. Although both showed no symptoms, they were ordered to undergo a 10-day quarantine and will miss the first three Group B games against Cambodia, Laos tomorrow and defending champions Vietnam (Sunday).

Malaysia will wrap up their group matches against Indonesia on Dec 19 and Cheng Hoe is keeping his fingers crossed that his players will stay injury free.

“We also hope and pray that no other players are affected (by Covid-19).”

Meanwhile, the squad received some good news as the AFF have agreed to let the Harimau Malaya replace their goalkeeper.

Based on the competition rules, no additions are allowed after the closing date for player registration, except for replacement in the goalkeeping position.

It is certainly a huge relief as first choice custodian Khairul Fahmi Che Mat received a yellow card in the 3-1 win over Cambodia.

With Khairulazhan out, the team is left with newbie Kalamullah Al-Hafiz as back-up.

It is believed Cheng Hoe will either call up national Under-22 goalkeeper Azri Ghani or Penang’s Sam Somerville.

“We will announce the replacement goalkeeper soon. We need to see if the player will be ready to join us.

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