PETALING JAYA, Dec 18 – The do or die mission for Harimau Malaya against Indonesia has a lot to offer in Sunday’s Group B match – a must win match for Tan Cheng Hoe’s team to stay alive in the  AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore.
On paper Malaysia has a mountain to scale after the 3-0 defeat to Vietnam which came in the wake of wins over Cambodia (3-1) and Laos (4-0) in their first two matches.
Point to note is that Cheng Hoe had handicaps at his disposal – thanks to the Covid-19 that saw flanker Faisal Halim and goalkeeper Azhan Khairul Khalid tested positive on arrival in the Lion City on Dec 3.
More was to come when Akhyar Rashid (the Man of the Match against Cambodia), Quentin Cheng also fell victim to the virus after being tested positive after the match.
All have since then rejoined the team’s training after serving quarantine. Dion Cools has also arrived in Singapore on Wednesday.
With the arrival of Dion Cools, Cheng Hoe has a full squad at his disposal but he has left it late before deciding on his first team.
“Team spirit has soared since the full squad got together for training. Dion Cools has settled down well with the rest of his teammates. Everyone is aware that we need a win for a top two finish.
“That is a mission we have. The team has not given up (hope) and there is still fire in the players to achieve a positive result in the mission,”‘ said Cheng Hoe from Singapore, adding that Faisal will feature in his first team.
Just like Guilherme De Paula, Belgium-based Luqman Hakim Shamsudin has not been able to “deliver” but the Kelantan-born is expected to start the match while the naturalized Brazilian is expected to start from the bench.
Cheng Hoe is also hoping that the new environment at the Kallang Stadium and a better pitch will be able to swing the match in Malaysia’s favor.
”We are aware that Indonesia is a much improved team under their new Korean coach (Shin Tae Yong) but it stops at that for us,” added Cheng Hoe, who is expected to play Dion Cools and Dominic Tan in the heart of defense.
Regulars, skipper Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and Shahrul Saad are nursing hamstring injuries sustained in the match against Vietnam.
Their backs are against the wall but the Malaysians are capable of getting the much needed win for a place in the semi-finals despite the odds stacked against them.

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