Both countries will be aiming to bounce back from their last friendly defeats when they go head to head in Hong Kong today
Almost fifteen months since they last met, Hong Kong and Malaysia will be lining up against each another once more in a friendly match at the Mong Kok Stadium in Kowloon tonight.
National coach Datuk K.Rajagopal will be eager to see his men get back to winning ways after losing their previous high profile friendly match to Vietnam in Kuala Lumpur last month. The hosts meanwhile, are sure to go for a victory in front of their home fans, to make up for the 2-0 defeat suffered at the hands of Singapore in August.
Since the appointment of Scottish-Australian coach Ernest Merrick in December last year, The Reds have lost only twice in six matches. Merrick, who has selected 21 players for this match, must be praying that the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) can make the necessary arrangements to get record scorer Chan Siu Ki to participate in the game. Chinese club Guangdong Sunray Cave, whom the 27-year-old forward plays for, is reportedly unwilling to release him for the match. Last year’s footballer of the year, Lo Kwan Yee, is a certain starter at right-back and is expected to lead the team out in the absence of Chan Wai Ho.
For Malaysia, a defeat would definitely heap more pressure on Rajagopal, after their fall in the most recent FIFA rankings was met with criticism from the media, fans and former players alike. With up to nine first-teamers missing due to their commitments in the Malaysia Cup final this week, the ex-Selangor coach could hand some of his fringe players the chance to make an impression against the Hong Kongers. Star striker Safee Sali will however be available and is ready to start upfront on his own. Also, expect exciting young winger R. Gopinathan to make his debut.
The last time these two nations played a match, it ended in a 1-1 draw. In that friendly, Abdul Hadi Yahya marked his international debut by coming off the bench to score the equalising goal for the Malayan Tigers at the Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground.