# Goalkeeper Khairul joins team in New Caledonia after settling income tax dues
# Defender Mahali Jasuli returns with serious knee injury
By Rizal Abdullah
It was different flights for two national footballers as Malaysia prepares to face New Caledonia in second of the three-match playing tour of Oceania at the Numa-Daly Magenta Stadium in Noumea, New Caledonia on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat was finally given the green-light to leave the shores of Malaysia after settling his income tax dues.
The 27-year-old Khairul who plays for his homestate Kelantan in the M-Leagu was barred by the Immigration authorities from travelling with Harimau Malaysia on June 11 because of the tax problems.
He is now with the team in Noumea, New Caledonia and is likely to feature in coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s match plans and strategies against New Caledonia. Khairul was not with the team when Malaysia played Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on June 17.
Malaysia lost 2-0 with third choice Farhan Abu Bakar of Kedah keeping goal. The other goalkeeper in the team is Izham Tarmizi Roslan who plays for Johor Darul Takzim in the M-League.
It was a different flight for Izham’s JDT compatriot Mahali Jasuli. The former Selangor player took a flight home after picking a serious knee injury which needs urgent treatment.
Selangor skipper Shahrom Kalam is also on the crock list but is still with the team in New Caledonia. Whether he plays against New Caledonia or otherwise is left to be seen as Kim Swee has promised to give every player in the tour party a chance to play in his team building for the AFF Suzuki Cup later this year.
Kim Swee predicts another “toughie” in Noumea but believes the Malaysians will be in a better frame of mind to face the the 2015 Pacific Games champions who are ranked No 183 in the world against Malaysia’s 173.
Inconsistency has been Malaysia’s biggest drawback and Kim Swee hopes to arrest this after watching his players in the three-match international “A” matches during the Oceania tour.
Malaysia complete their Oceania playing tour with a match against Fiji in Nadi, on June 26. Fiji are ranked 186.
“It won’t be easy against New Caledonia. They will not only have home-ground advantage but are a much improved side,” said Kim Swee.