Malaysia have their backs against the wall as they need to beat Bahrain tonight to keep their slim hopes alive in the Asian Zone final round qualifying campaign for the 2012 London Olympics.
National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee said it was a do-or-die mission for the lads after defeats to Japan and Syria, which they lost by similar 2-0 margins.
“One more defeat will end our campaign but we are not going to give up without a fight. There is still a fighting chance to work our way up.
“The boys look better today compared to their lethargic showing against Syria (Wednesday) due to fatigue,” said Kim Swee at a press conference at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
Kim Swee’s boys barely had any rest after their return from the SEA Games on Tuesday morning. They had an absorbing final against hosts Indonesia, who they beat 4-3 on penalty kicks after both teams were tied 1-1 at extra-time, on Monday.
To compound matters, Kim Swee also has a long list of injury problems with three key players doubtful for tonight’s Bahrain match. They are centre-back Mohd Muslim Ahmad, midfielder Mohd Irfan Fazail and striker Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim.
“It all depends on whether they recover before match day but at the same time, I need to look at other options,” said Kim Swee.
Striker A. Thamil Arasu will lead the attack following the absence of injured duo Izzaq Faris Ramlan and Syahrul. Mohd Ferris Danial and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri are the other options up front.
“It does not matter who gets the goals but we need the three points. We will go on the offensive to get the goals,” said Kim Swee who is likely to push pint-sized midfielder Mohd Nazmi Faiz to be the back-up striker.
The back-line will include Mohd Fadhli Shas, Mohd Ameer Saidin (centre-back), Mahalli Jasuli (right), Mohd Zubir Azmi (left) and goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
K. Gurusamy and Mohd Nazmi will be the keys in the heart of midfield while Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor and Fandi Othman should provide the sparks down the flanks.
Bahrain are in the same situation like Malaysia after two straight defeats to Syria (1-3) and Japan (0-2).
Coach Salman Ahmed Sharida said they were here to take three points.
“It won’t be easy because Malaysia play well at home. We had a long flight but the three points will be ours,” said Salman.