Strike force woes continued to bug the National Under-23 football team ahead of their Asian Zone third round Olympic qualifying match against Bahrain tomorrow.
Coach Ong Kim Swee paired Ahmad Fakri Saarani and A. Thamil Arasu upfront against Syria in Wednesday qualifier but the duo failed to click and rarely troubled opponents in the 2-0 loss.
Striker Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim and attacking midfielder Irfan Fazail are capable of adding fire power to the team but the dynamic duo have not fully recovered from their ankle and knee injuries which they picked up at Indonesia SEA Games.
The attacking duo returned to training at the National Sports Council (NSC) field yesterday but complained of slight pain, putting Kim Swee in a difficult position ahead tomorrow’s game.
Lanky striker Izzaq Faris Ramlan has been ruled out of tomorrow’s tie as he is down with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury.
Kim Swee said that he would have to make do with the players available and push for a win against Bahrain
“I still believe in Fakri and Thamil’s ability but obviously I’ll be happier if I have more options in attack,” said Kim Swee.
“There’s still time for Syahrul and Irfan to recover from their injuries and I won’t force them to play if they are in pain. We’ll be positive and hope that they recover.
“I have to do with what I have and winger Wan Zack Wan Haikal Wan Noor is starting to look sharp in training and it is another good news for us.”
Defender Mohd Fadhli Shas who missed the match against Syria due to high fever also rejoined training but his partner in defence Muslim Ahmad skipped training due to a pulled hamstring.
“We have Mohd Amer Saidin who played well against Syria to replace Muslim so I’m not really worried,” said Kim Swee who led the team to victory in the SEA Games football final against Indonesia on Monday.