Ong Kim Swee has termed today’s Olympic qualifier against Bahrain at the National Stadium as “do-or-die” following defeats to Japan and Syria.
Coming on the back of the Sea Games victory last week, the Olympic squad crashed 2-0 to Syria in an Asian zone third round Group C clash in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday as fatigue set in.
As neither Malaysia nor Bahrain have picked up a point, defeat for either side would spell the end of their qualifying campaign.
Realising this, Kim Swee has placed the emphasis on attack and every available able body will be put forward today.
“The players look fresher but some have yet to return to 100 percent recovery. We still have a few players injured and those who are not able to train today (yesterday) will probably not play.
“We still have a chance but having lost two matches already, this is do-or-die for us. It’s the same situation for both teams and for the loser, the path to the next stage will be closed. We have to win if we want to reach the next stage,” said Kim Swee at a press conference at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
He is likely to be without centre-back Muslim Ahmad, who is troubled by a hamstring injury having played every minute of Malaysia’s six Sea Games matches and the Syria qualifier.
Fadhli Shas is set to step in while the fitness of midfielder Irfan Fazail and attacked Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim will be assessed today.
“I will decide tomorrow (this) morning whether the injured players can play or not. If Irfan can play, then our midfield will be more effective as he can partner Nazmi (Faiz Mansor).
“I want to play Nazmi in a more offensive role because we need to go for the win. If Syahrul does not make it, (A.) Thamil (Arasu) is the only forward I have available although I have Ferris Danial (Mat Nasir) and Ahmad Hazwan (Bakri) for cover on the bench.
“We miss a creative presence as in Baddrol (Bakhtiar) during the Sea Games, who led the team very well. But we will have to make do with the players we have and in Khairul Fahmi (Che Mat), we have a capable leader,” added Kim Swee, in a hint that he may finally drop under-performing Ahmad Fakri Saarani from his first XI.
Kim Swee expects Bahrain to employ a similar game plan as Syria in using their height and pace to their advantage with their coach Salman Sharida looking at nothing less than three points to take home.
“Bahrain have lost two games but there are 12 points to play for. We have come here to take three points but it will not be easy against a Malaysian team who can count on the support of their crowd.
“The Malaysian team have good players and have very good tactics but both teams have a chance to win,” said Sharida.