Harimau Malaya Must Overcome HK In Asian Cup Qualifier
There’s no two ways about it – Malaysia must beat Hong Kong in their 2019 Asian Cup Group B qualifying match at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka tonight.
The Harimau Malaya need the three points against the islanders to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Finals alive after losing their opening match 2-1 to Lebanon on June 13.
The team, under coach Eduardo Vingada, have been training since Aug 14 compared to their two-week preparation for the match against Lebanon.
Although the Malaysians lost their two warm-up matches – against Syria (2-1) and Myanmar (1-0) – the 64-year-old Portuguese expects the national team to be in better shape following their longer preparation.
“This is a crucial game. We have to win to remain in contention,” said Vingada in the pre-match press conference in Melaka yesterday.
“We need to change our negative results and I believe we are getting close to get positive results. In the last two games we showed improvement.
“Against Myanmar, we controlled the game but still went down.
“We have to be playing for results, that’s what have been missing from our game. I hope we can get it right against Hong Kong.”
The coach has dropped 11 players from the squad that lost to Lebanon and have called up hotshot striker Shahrel Fikri Fauzi and midfielder Kiko Insa.
Shahrel has scored 16 goals for Perak State Development Corporation (PKNP) in the Premier League while Pahang’s versatile player Kiko can play as a centreback, defensive midfielder or central midfielder.
Hong Kong are 20 spots above Malaysia in the FIFA rankings at 146th and will not be easy opponents.
They did well to recover from their 2-0 opening defeat to Lebanon by holding North Korea to a 1-1 draw on June 13.
Vingada, who watched Hong Kong drew Singapore 1-1 in a friendly on Aug 31, said his players are better than their opponents.
“The match in Singapore was played on an articifial pitch so they might have not played to their actual strength,” said Vingada.
“We have seen footage of them against Lebanon and they played much better against North Korea. I think everyone knows how everyone plays now.”
“I believe my players understand what needs to be implemented during matches. We are a better side than Hong Kong and we must prove it.”