Iraq - Malaysia Preview: Harimau Malaya face battle-hardy Iraqis in a friendly before 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers

Malaysia face a challenge against favourites Iraq in a clash that promises to be one of epic proportions
  PROBABLE LINEUPS

IRAQ

Gassid
Mansor - Saeed - Abbas - Kadhim

Samer - Khalid - Rehema - Yasin
Safee - Mahmoud



MALAYSIA

Norazlan Razali
Zafuan - Fadhli- Muslim - Jasuli
Ashaari - Azamuddin - Nor - Yong
Fauzi
- Hadi


Harimau Malaya take on Iraq in a friendly match before embarking on the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. The clash in Dubai looks to be more than just a friendly match as the Malaysian national team would want to build momentum before taking on Qatar in Doha only five days later.

Head coach Datuk K. Rajagopal had an uphill task after finding out that he has a depleted pool of talent due to an injury crisis. Regular players like Safee Sali, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Wan Zack Wan Haikal and S. Kunanlan are ruled out of the next few games for Malaysia.

However, he called up a changed squad of players featuring new faces like Kelantan’s Norfarhan Muhammad, Pahang's Fauzi Roslan, Selangor midfielder Shukor Jusoh and ATM defender Fitri Omar. King Raja also made the shocking call to drop big names like Safiq Rahim and Mohd Badri from the squad.

Malaysia’s squad comes together after more than a month off. Their last outing was against Thailand where they were served an early exit in the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup – losing out to the Thais 3-1 on aggregate.

Even without prominent players for the friendly, the visiting team, boasts on-form striker Fauzi Roslan who has netted seven goals in Pahang's six matches so far.

Iraq on the other hand, come in as favourites for this tie even after coming up short in the Gulf Cup of Nations in January. They fell against a strong UAE side in the semi-finals but their sheer size is a definite advantage against the Malaysians. The Middle-eastern team, also known as the Lions of Mesopotamia, were close to signing football legend, Diego Maradonna, as their coach but Hakeem Shaker, the interim manager, was handed the role.

Captian Younis Mahmoud, who has 45 goals to his name, will lead the Iraqis into the game with good form – three wins in five games. Harimau Malaya on the other hand, only managed two victories from their last five.

Both teams want to claim a victory to start off their respective AFC Asian Cup Qualifying campaigns on a high.

The Malayan Tigers currently come in at 158th position in the FIFA rankings and Iraq in 89th.