Cheng Hoe wants to whip up winning formula from Tajikistan match

Last update: 08/11/2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8  -- Malaysia will take full advantage of the Tier 1 friendly match against Tajikistan tomorrow to create the best formula for the upcoming 2022 World Cup / 2023 Asian Cup qualifier matches against Thailand and Indonesia.

After losing two of their three Group G matches, Malaysia should seize the home ground advantage in the matches on Nov 14 and 19 to remain in the hunt for an automatic slot to the 2023 Asian Cup finals.

With the presence of two Malaysia Cup finalists 'engineers', Kedah team captain Baddrol Bakhtiar and Muhammad Afiq Fazail of Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT), in the national squad, head coach Tan Cheng Hoe would be looking for the best combination to maintain a high-intensity game against Tajikistan.

"It's not easy to get a Tier 1 match and to face a better team in terms of ranking. We need to play with a stronger team to gain confidence and learn something from tactics as well as adjust to the intensity.

"Tomorrow's match is meant for us to find more combinations, and we will field players who have yet to see action. I also want to see players consistent with the team's gameplay," he told a pre-match press conference here today.

After three matches of the second round qualifying campaign, Thailand top Group G with identical seven points as Vietnam while Malaysia are in fourth place with three points.

Malaysia scored a dramatic 3-2 victory over Indonesia in Jakarta before losing the following two matches, 1-2 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil and 0-1 to Vietnam in Hanoi.

Meanwhile, Pahang player Muhamad Nor Azam Abdul Azih, who returned to the national squad after missing the Hanoi match due to injury, said the increasing number of midfielders in the national squad would give an advantage to the team.

The 24-year-old midfielder hopes the match against Tajikistan at the National Stadium would have a positive impact on the national team's midfielders ahead of the two crucial matches against Thailand and Indonesia.

"I'm happy with the midfielders right now...very good because there are combinations of old and new players like Baddrol, Brendan (Brendan Gan) and new call-up (Muhammad) Afiq. It is a right choice by the coach and I hope it will bear good results when meeting Thailand.

"I want to have a win tomorrow and see the compatibility within the team," he said.