Can Harimau Malaya overcome Oman's defence and secure crucial win in WC Qualifier?

Malaysia needs three straight wins to stay in the race

25 Mar 2024 08:00pm
Malaysia seeks home field advantage to revive World Cup dreams after Oman setback. - Bernama photo.
Malaysia seeks home field advantage to revive World Cup dreams after Oman setback. - Bernama photo.

SHAH ALAM - Ahead of tomorrow's reverse fixture against Oman, Malaysia's focus must squarely be on securing a victorious outcome, especially on home turf, if they hope to have any chance of progressing.

Since the Asian Cup 2024, the Malaysian football team has grappled with maintaining consistent success, encountering challenges despite flashes of promise.

In the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, they initially surged to the top of their group with impressive victories over Kyrgyzstan and Taiwan.

However, their momentum was halted by a 2-0 defeat against Oman in Muscat.

Despite head coach Kim Pan Gon's aspirations for at least a draw, Malaysia struggled to breach Oman's defence, conceding goals from Issam Alsabhi and Muhsen Saleh Al Ghassani in the second half.

With the reverse fixture against Oman looming at home, Malaysia has an opportunity to bounce back and secure a crucial win, showcasing their resilience and reigniting hopes for World Cup qualification.

Fans eagerly anticipate a spirited performance as the team aims to reclaim their winning momentum and advance toward their World Cup aspirations.

Speaking to Sinar Daily ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Oman, Sportswriter Arnaz M. Khairul stressed that Malaysia must focus solely on winning the game.

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"If Malaysia hope to have any chance of progressing, particularly when playing on home turf, Malaysia’s focus must be on achieving a victorious outcome.

"However, the lingering concern revolves around whether we will have a suitable pitch to play on or face yet another national embarrassment courtesy of the Stadium Board," he said.

Arnas also noted that it was evident from the first leg that Oman outperformed Malaysia in all aspects, particularly in defence.

"Malaysia will need to demonstrate otherwise.

"In a World Cup qualifying campaign, every game holds significance for teams aspiring to secure a spot in the World Cup, rendering the question of importance irrelevant.

"Malaysia must secure victories in all three remaining matches; however, losing the next two could jeopardise their chances of qualification," he added.

Arnaz also speculated that based on the previous match, the starting 11 for the upcoming game against Oman will likely remain unchanged.

He also predicted a 1-0 win for Malaysia.

Responding to a question regarding Malaysia’s recent underperformance since before the Asian Cup 2024, he clarified that the matches Malaysia played before the tournament primarily consisted of friendlies, the outcomes of which should not be overly emphasised.

"This includes the Merdeka Tournament, an invitational friendly competition.

"The media's portrayal of these results fuelled unwarranted expectations among fans," he said.