BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia boss Tan Cheng Hoe has reminded his charges to take advantage of the chance to play a higher-ranked team in a friendly this Saturday.
Malaysia, currently ranked 158th, will host 116th Tajikistan at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, before facing off against Thailand and Indonesia in the World Cup qualification, also at the same venue.
The Tajiks are in Southeast Asia in preparation of their qualification match, away to Myanmar next Thursday.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference on Friday, Cheng Hoe noted his observations of Tajikistan.
"It's not easy to arrange official friendly matches against better-ranked teams, and as it so happens Tajikistan are here. We need to use the chance to raise our confidence, improve technically, tactically and intensity-wise. They're at a different level than we are, but I don't want my charges to be under pressure. We must attack and defend as a unit.
"Tajikistan have picked up six points from their three qualification matches. Their 1-0 win against Kyrgyz Republic showed just how good, physical and intense they are," he explained.
He is also expecting an improved midfield with the return of Baddrol Bakhtiar and Afiq Fazail to the national team's fold, as well as the late arrival of Brendan Gan, whose wife recently delivered their first child.
"We're very happy that Brendan has joined the centralised training today, while Baddrol and Afiq are good additions to the team because we felt that against Vietnam (1-0 World Cup qualification defeat on October 10) that our midfield did not play well.
"The Tajikistan match will be a different ball game, and the players will be motivated to play against Thailand," said the 51-year old trainer.
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