BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Although Indonesia recently cut two naturalised players from the squad that will face Malaysia in their Group G World Cup qualification match this Thursday, Harimau Malaya head coach Tan Cheng Hoe has insisted that his focus remains on his own charges alone.
Garudas boss Simon McMenemy last week finalised their 23-man roster for the home match by dropping injured defender Otávio Dutra, and Greg Nwokolo, whose naturalisation process could not be completed in time for the clash. Only Saddil Ramdani, who plays club football in Malaysia for Pahang, was called up as a last-minute replacement.
For now, the hosts have four naturalised players on their roster; Victor Igbonefo, Stefano Lilipaly, Beto Goncalves and Osas Saha.
Speaking to the press before conducting training on Monday, Cheng Hoe only wants his team to focus on cutting down on their mistakes.
"I know that Indonesia have dropped two [naturalised] players while calling up Saddil as replacement. I'm sure he will inform the head coach (McMenemy) of our team's strengths and weaknesses.
"Regardless, we have to go to Jakarta with the objective of playing carefully, to avoid making major mistakes that can led us to concede early. They have to be focused from the starting whistle," explained the 51-year old trainer in response to a question by Goal.
Apart from Saddil, three other players on the Indonesia squad have played club football in Malaysia; Andik Vermansah, Evan Dimas and Ferdinand Sinaga, but Cheng Hoe believes that their knowledge of his charges can be negated if they remain confident of themselves and each other.
"That sort of advantage can be countered by the players' individual belief in themselves and the teamwork during the match."
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Azam Azih akui yang penyertaan Saddil Ramdani dalam skuad Indonesia bakal beri kelebihan buat tuan rumah apabila menentang #harimaumalaya Khamis ini. Malaysia midfielder Azam Azih admitted that the inclusion of his @officialpahangfa teammate @saddilramdanii, and three other former Malaysia-based players, on the Indonesia squad that will face them this Thursday will give the hosts an advantage over the Harimau Malaya.