By K. RAJAN
PETALING JAYA: Skipper Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak has a heavy responsibility as he leads a depleted Malaysian squad for the Asian Cup Group D qualifying match against Qatar in Doha on Feb 6.
The tough tackling centreback will wear the captain’s armband following Safiq Rahim’s suspension. Coach Datuk K. Rajagopal’s squad will also be without nine regulars due to injuries.
“The show must go on. We are hit by an injury crisis but we can’t sit back and cry about it. The match against Qatar is going to be tough and we have to pool our resources together and make the best of it with the available players,” said Aidil before the team’s departure for Dubai at the KLIA in Sepang yesterday.
Among those left behind to recuperate from injuries are Safee Sali, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Amar Rohidan, S. Kunalan, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Gary Steven Robbat, K. Gurusamy, Bunyamin Umar and Zubir Azmi. To make matters worse, two new call-ups Mohd Fitri Omar and Shahrizal Saad also joined the crock list.
The absence of the regulars has forced Rajagopal to recall old hands Mohd Amri Yahyah and Abdul Hadi Yahya as well as newcomers Nik Shahrul Azim Abdul Halim (defender), Mohd Fauzi Rozlan (striker), Affize Faisal Mamat (midfielder) and Mohd Shukur Jusoh (midfielder).
“All of us are aware of the situation in the team. I think the new players are in a good shape despite their inexperience. Players like Amri and Abdul Hadi are no strangers to us, having been with the national team before. They will slot in easily.
“On the positive side, our defence looks good as it’s injury-free,” said Aidil, who is expected to partner Mohd Fadhli Shas in the centre of defence.
The leftback position is set to go to Selangor skipper Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar while Mahalli Jasuli will man the right side of defence.
Aidil said their friendly against Iraq in Dubai on Friday would be the perfect stage to fine-tune their game before the Qatar encounter.
“We are going to play a strong team in Qatar. The game against Iraq will be a good build-up for the team,” added the 25-year-old Aidil.
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