Defending champions Malaysia have been dealt a massive blow ahead of their AFF Suzuki Cup first leg semi-final match against Thailand on Sunday, as injuries to four first team regulars have left them short of options.
Star striker Safee Sali and fellow forward Khyril Muhymeen Zambri are yet to recover from their previous injuries, while two of the country’s best performers in the last couple of games - Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor and Shakir Shaari will not even make the team.
“Khyril and Safee are still complaining of pain and I’m talking to our physio to try and get Safee available for selection on Sunday,” head coach Datuk K.Rajagopal told The Star at the end of a training session yesterday.
“It’s a difficult situation as Zack, Shakir, Safee and Khyril had all done well before the injuries.”
He also added that winger Wan Zack could have played his last game of the tournament for the team against Indonesia.
“Wan Zack’s injury is quite bad as he has a muscle tear on his right thigh and may not be able to return to the team even if we make the final.”
The 56-year-old coach however, is convinced the back-up players will step up to the plate and believes his experiments in friendlies leading up to the tournament will come in handy in situations like this.
“My philosophy is that every one of the 22 players in the squad should be ready when called up.
“I’ve been tinkering with our formation to accommodate these injuries. I hope to get a positive result against the Thais in the first leg.”