Akhyar Rashid is Malaysia’s bright spark ahead of ACQ against Lebanon

Nicolas Anil Nicolas Anil

Akhyar Rashid gives Malaysia cause for optimism against Lebanon in their Asian Cup qualifier despite Mongolia draw.

Malaysia’s new wonder kid Akhyar Rashid says the national team will discover the right chemistry in time, as he and his teammates prepare for their dead rubber match against Lebanon on Tuesday.

The Kedah FA winger was the standout performer in the 2-2 draw against Mongolia in Thursday’s friendly, with a goal to cap a lively performance after coming off the bench.

With the Harimau Malaya already out of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers ahead of the match against their Group B winners, the teenager will be eyeing a starting berth.

“We weren’t fortunate against Mongolia, but we want to improve as soon as possible before the next game. I think with time, we will find the right chemistry and improve,” said Akhyar.

Malaysia’s preparations for this match have been severely derailed following the release of 14 Johor Darul Ta’zim players to pave the way for new faces to be given a chance against Lebanon.

In their place, national head coach Tan Cheng Hoe has called up nine players to his squad who will leave for Lebanon on Saturday night.

9 PEMAIN BAHARU SEBAGAI PENGGILIRAN DALAM SKUAD HARIMAU MALAYASaya ingin menjelaskan di sini bawah kehadiran sembilan…

Posted by Football Association of Malaysia (Official) on Friday, 23 March 2018

With Akhyar running high on confidence, Tan could make the winger the focal point of his attack.

Tan was the assistant coach when Malaysia fell 2-1 to an under-strength Lebanon side in June last year, so he knows about the quality of the West Asian giant.

But the coach’s biggest task will be sorting out his latest new-look squad to try and conjure up a decent performance on Tuesday.

There is a growing scrutiny on the national team after they failed to beat the part-timers of Mongolia to stretch a winless rut of 11 games.

Jafri Firdaus Chew and Shahrel Fikri could be in line to lead Malaysia’s frontline in the absence of Ahmad Hazwan Bakri and Safawi Rasid, while Akhyar will once again be deployed on the flanks.

After Lebanon, Malaysia will play Nepal in another friendly on April 1.