Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee is unfazed about the fact that he won’t have midfielder Safiq Rahim for the team’s AFC Asian Cup playoff against Timor Leste on Thursday and next Monday.
Safiq has been recovering from a thigh injury and despite taking part in training, he has been ruled out of the crucial clash.
The 28-year-old has been in red-hot form of late, and is the third-highest scorer in the AFC Cup, in which he represents Johor Darul Ta’zim, with seven goals.
While Malaysia will sorely miss Safiq, Kim Swee made it clear that he has plenty of replacements for the midfielder.
“Without Safiq Rahim who has been ruled out altogether due to an injury, I have a few players who can take his position in midfield such as Amirulhadi Zainal, Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Abdul Latiff Suhaimi, Brendan Gan, Junior Eldstal, Ahmad Fakri Saarani and also Baddrol Bakhtiar,” he told reporters. “I believe it will not be a big problem, judging from the players who we have. I’m sure they will be able to perform better tomorrow.”
Malaysia have not managed to find the back of the net in their last two international friendlies against Macau in March and Myanmar on Saturday, but instead of criticising his side, Kim Swee praised them for their rock-solid defence.
Kim Swee added that he is confident his side will get the job done in the first leg on Thursday as they will be playing on home soil.
“Keep in mind that we did not concede any goals in our previous two friendly matches,” he said. “So for tomorrow, we must keep a clean sheet because the away goal rule applies.
“As long as we do not concede and can improve on our finishing, I believe we will be able to get a good result tomorrow.
“To win, we need to do the best that we can, especially with the advantage of playing at home. We need to score. I believe that if we play according to the plans, the goals will come.”