Weakened Malaysia face UAE in qualifier

The Malaysian national team will be without five regular players when they face the United Arab Emirates in Tuesday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier at Shah Alam Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

The home side will be without first choice goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi, whose wife is due to give birth, and four other player for 'alleged' family reasons. 

In the last game against the UAE in September Fahmi was substituted after 27 minutes, having conceded four goals in his countries 10-0 record thrashing. 

The reality though is that Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee will have to somehow find a way to motivate a team that has conceded 26 goals in their six Asian zone Group A qualifiers including a 6-0 loss against Palestine last Thursday.

What makes matters worse is that they will be playing in an empty stadium at home due to Fifa sanctions that stems from crowd violence after their 3-0 loss against Saudi Arabia on September 8.

In the Group A standings, Saudi Arabia head the group after five games with 13 points followed by UAE on 10 points. Palestine are next with nine points then Malaysia on four points followed by East Timor on two.    
In an interview with Gulf News, Kim Swee acknowledged that he did not know how the players were going to cope with playing in an empty stadium. 

“It will be a new experience, but I really don’t know how the team will cope playing in an empty stadium. It may look more of a friendly game.

“Anyway, we are playing for pride, so that we can end the year on a positive note.”

Kim Swee added that he would need to do a slight revamp to the squad due to players dropping out ahead to Tuesday’s qualifier.

“I have to do minor revamp in the squad and called four players from the waiting list. I hope they can provide something fresh, especially in terms of their fitness and help us to create and come up with other tactical aspects.

“I know that UAE is not an easy opponent, but the players need to bounce back immediately.”