KUALA LUMPUR – Harimau Malaya head coach Tan Cheng Ho (picture) has demanded his charges to step up their game against Thailand to at least finish third in the Group G of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup second round qualification campaign.
After two consecutive defeats against United Arab Emirates (4-0) and Vietnam (2-1), Cheng Hoe hopes his charges would buck up to face the War Elephants at the Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai, tonight (12.45 am Malaysian time).
“We have been working very hard every day to get a positive result even though the last two matches have been a disappointment for each and everyone in the team. I know Thailand is a very good, strong and quite balanced team.
“Every time Malaysia plays against them, it won’t be easy. But I still hope that we can play well and get positive results,” he said at the pre-match press conference in Dubai, as shared by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Despite having to play without three key players in the squad – left-back La’Vere Corbin-Ong, midfielder Syamer Kutty Abba and winger Mohamadou Sumareh – who are facing one-match suspension after receiving two yellow cards, the 53-year-old coach hopes that any players who were given the trust will be able to fill the gap.
Cheng Hoe also did not rule out the possibility of him giving playing minutes to a number of players who are still waiting for their chances to prove their capabilities.
Meanwhile, national team stopper Mohd Farizal Marlias said he believed they can come back with positive results in the last group fixture to secure their automatic berth to the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers.
“We have another important match, I believe we can do better than before. The most important thing is our preparations. I believe we can get positive results,” he said.
Despite sharing nine points after seven matches, Thailand is currently placed third in the group above Malaysia with a better goal difference, meaning only a win will guarantee a third place for Harimau Malaya to avoid a playoff match for the next round.
The unbeaten Vietnam tops Group G with 17 points, followed by UAE (15 points), while Indonesia in the bottom with one point.