In the past few international friendlies, Malaysia have beaten Cambodia and Sri Lanka but lost to Chinese Taipei and Kyrgyzstan. While the result has been inconsistent, one particular analysis of the performances has remained a constant - Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak's continued presence as the central striker.
Malaysia scored seven goals in those four matches but none of them came from captain Zaquan as he found it difficult to prove his detractors wrong. The Kuala Lumpur forward was undoubtedly the player that received the most criticism from the fans despite other poor performances from other players.
However, the experienced 31-year-old knows how the game works and that the only form of criticism that he needs to listen to will come from Tan Cheng Hoe and the rest of the coaching staffs.
"I need to prove the coach's faith in me is justified. He is the one that decides and the criticism from him will be the most important," said Zaquan in Friday's pre-match press conference. "All the other stuffs, I have to shut it out."
"Personally, I haven't been able to achieve 100% of what I want aim for. I still need to work harder before the Suzuki Cup. All these trainings and friendlies are part the preparations. When the tournament kicks off, there can't be any excuses.
"Every game is important, even the friendlies. This is our last test before the Suzuki Cup so it will decide who gets to go to the tournament. So the players will be motivated to do well."
Nor Azam Azih and Azrif Nasrulhaq are the only two players that has not been in Cheng Hoe's previous call-ups and these two are likely to be fielded as the Malaysia head coach continues to find the right combination in the friendly match against Maldives.
Malaysia Cup champion Kenny Pallraj is also trying to shake off a slight injury and has been training separately from the main squad in recent trainings. One player that will miss out of the Maldives match is Akhyar Rashid.
The forward has looked lethargic in recent weeks, particularly in the AFC U-19 Championship in Indonesia. Cheng Hoe has already revealed that the 19-year-old will play no part against Maldives as the medical team continues to rebuild his fitness levels.
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