It was a workout at the gym for the Harimau Malaya on Saturday morning and national head coach Tan Cheng Hoe could not have asked for anything more with the efforts and commitment of his charges are putting in for another cruncher this Tuesday.
Malaysia faces group favorites the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil this Tuesday – with their confidence sky-high after their come-from-behind 3-2 win over Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta in their opening Grou G natch in the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers.
The former international does not want his players to be distracted in the buildup to the match against the Arab nation. UAE arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to get themselves acclimatized to the local hot and humid conditions.
“It will be another high-intensity match and I want my players to be fully focused for the coming match. The Jakarta scenario is now history. The journey has just begun for us and the journey continues as our mission is not completed,” said Cheng Hoe.
Cheng Hoe, however, revealed that has told the players to be “on their toes and be fully prepared” as he has a squad of 24 players and one of them could be axed. He brought 24 players to Jakarta when Gambia-born naturalized Malaysian Mohamadou Sumareh was on the crock list and did not play in the friendly against Jordan.
Sumareh, who started on the bench, turned out to be Cheng Hoe’s trump card and Malaysia’s hero with two goals, including netting the winner in the 97th minute when the Korean referee added eight minutes.
Crowd trouble had forced the referee to stop play for 10 minutes.
“I am not sure if Sumareh will start the match against UAE…it all depends on how the situation during our training. I am in dilemma at this stage but I am very pleased with the way the players are responding in training.
“There is a new wave of zest and enthusiasm and the players are aware that they cannot afford to slack. This is very encouraging for the team. The match in Gelora Bung Karno was our best so far.
“I expect more from the team. The players are coping up well and the way they have absorbed the pressure augurs well for the team,” added Cheng Hoe. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH