KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 – Hours after arriving in Dubai on Thursday, the Harimau Malaya will get down to work as head coach Tan Cheng Hoe has lined up a training session for the squad that will be reinforced by four-based players who are already in Dubai.
The four are Thailand-based Junior Eldstal (Chonburi FC), Dominic Tan (Police Tero), Liridon Krasniqi (Newcastle Jets, Australia) and Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin (KV Kortrijk, Belgium). All four were given the green light to join the squad in Dubai.
Cheng Hoe is eager to see his full squad in training and who can fit into the team. He is not too worried about the physical condition of the four as he has been keeping in touch with them apart from getting reports from their respective clubs.
The Harimau Malaya leaves for Dubai from KLIA at 9am on Thursday (May 20).  With a four-hour time difference between Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, he has made arrangements for a training session for the squad on the same day of their arrival.
“Time is against us and we have to take every opportunity to make the best out of it. This will be our first training session with all the players,” said Cheng Hoe, glad that it has been “smooth going” when the second phase of centralised training began at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on May 16.
While there have been some minor ”off field” issues for the Harimau Malaya, which he knows will be well handled by the FA of Malaysia (FAM), Cheng Hoe has been concentrating on his job – confident that his charges are fully focused for the upcoming matches in the Middle East.
Malaysia will play two friendly matches as part of their preparations for the remaining three matches in Group G.
The two friendlies are against Kuwait (May 23) and Bahrain (May 28). Cheng Hoe has made it clear that he will use the two friendlies to test out every player who can play to his system.
Malaysia’s remaining matches in Group G in the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June are against UAE (June 3), Vietnam (June 11) and Thailand on June 15.
Malaysia will be without two pillars – defender Shahrul Saad and striker Shahrel Fikri – both of whom are kayoed by injuries but Cheng Hoe is not too disturbed by their absence as he has enough material to choose from the squad.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the strict SOPs enforced by the Malaysian government curtailed Malaysia’s preparations for the qualifiers.
Malaysia is currently second in the group standings with nine points – two behind leaders Vietnam on 11 points after five matches.
Thailand is third on eight points followed by UAE with six points (from four matches) while Indonesia is without a point after losing all five matches.
The squad
Farizal Marlias
Khairul Azhan Khalid
Samuel Somerville
Matthew Davies
Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak
Adam Nor Azih
Corbin Ong
Rizal Ghazali
Junior Eldstal
Dominic Tan
Syahmi Safari
Irfan Zakaria
Azam Azih
Safawi Rasid
Brendan Gan
Liridon Krasniqi
Mohamadou Sumareh
Akhyar Rashid
Syamer Kutty Abba
Nazmi Faiz Mansor
Arif Aiman Hanapi
Guilherme De Paula
Syafiq Ahmad
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha
Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin

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