PETALING JAYA: National football coach Allan Harris in unperturbed over striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli's poor scoring rate for Kedah in domestic competitions.
Akmal has scored only four goals one in Kedah's 1-3 defeat by Selangor Public Bank in a FA Cup first round match on on Feb 19 and a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Kelantan in Premier I on April 5.
Harris said that he had faith in Akmal's ability and could count on the striker to deliver in Malaysia's pre-Olympic campaign.
I can count on Akmal anytime. He has played for me before. He is experienced and has played at a higher level. He has regained his confidence, scoring a hat-trick recently, said Harris.
The Englishman wil put Akmal to test in a friendly match against Pahang at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan tonight.
Malaysia have a first-round bye in the Olympic qualifying tournament. They will play the winners of the match between Turkmenistan and India in the second round. The first-leg match will be played in Kuala Lumpur on May 3 and the return match is scheduled for June 7.
Harris said that his plans had already been affected by the current situation in the world the war in Iraq and the spread of the deadly illness, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The national Under-22 training squad were scheduled to go to Bangkok for a two-match playing tour from April 15 to 21 but had to cancel their plans due to the SARS threat.
Attempts to bring the Thais here have also drawn a nought, leaving Harris with no choice but to test out his boys in friendly matches against M-League teams and the visiting Jordanian national team here on April 25 and 28.