Losing not an option

The opening  AFF match  against Cambodia will probably be the longest 90 minutes in the life of national coach Dato Ong Kim Swee.

For this is one match that he and his charges cannot afford to lose, or even draw.

Cambodia may be minnows but no team should be taken lightly.

And playing what some perceive as weak teams is most difficult for any coach to prepare a game plan.

” Our opponents have nothing to lose but all to gain. Thus they will throw caution into the wind and play their normal game. It is how my players handle the situation that matters,” said Kim Swee.

” The maturity of the players will come under the microscope in matches such as this.

” While I never want anyone to come to a conclusion after the first match, this will indicate our state of mind as we approach tougher matches ahead,

” We need to win this at all cost and that I why Attack will be the strategy of choice in this match.

” This is not going to be a walk in the park match. I expect it to be hard and tough and opening matches are always difficult.”

Kim Swee is expected to field Darren Lok  and Hazwan Bakri as the strike force with Norshahrul Idlan and Safee Sali to be brought on as replacement killers.

The midfield will be helmed by Badrol Bakhriar, Zaquan Adha, Fakri and Irfan although he could eventually opt for Amri Yahya and Shazwan.

The back four will most likely see the same four who saw action against Papua New Guinea Matt Davies, Sharom Kalam, Shahrul Saad and Rizal

In goal Khairul Fahmi is expected to get the nod

” It’s crunch time and the hopes and aspiration of the nation are squarely on the shoulders of the players,” said Kim Swee.

” I stand by my choice of players as given the circumstances these are the best available that I could pick from.

” Critics many have their opinions and choices, but only I know what I had to endure to come up with a team that could carry our challenge here in Myanmar and beyond,

” Let’s take one match at a time and not read too much into it after 90 minutes.

” We know that 3 points is vital against Cambodia and that is exactly what we aim for.

” It is how we end the match that matters most.”