Kuala Lumpur: UAE and Vietnam will be tested at home when Group B of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 continues on Thursday.
Things remain tight in Group G with UAE and Malaysia tied on three points, behind leaders Thailand who have collected four points from their first two games.
UAE host bottom-placed Indonesia, while fourth-placed Vietnam could leap above Malaysia with a win in Hanoi.
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The journey so far
VIETNAM v MALAYSIA
Likely to be the more closely-contested of the two Group G ties on Thursday, AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 quarter-finalists Vietnam welcome Malaysia to the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi with both teams eager to make an early claim for a qualification spot.
Vietnam picked up a precious point in their opening game, holding Thailand to a goalless draw in the Thai city of Pathum Thani last month.
Coach Park Hang-seo’s men will, however, have to do without the services of midfielder Luong Xuan Truong, likely for the remainder of the Qualifiers campaign. The 24-year-old suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in training and is expected to be out for up to six months.
On the other side, Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe made just two changes to the squad that collected three points from their opening two matches, defeating Indonesia 3-2 in Jakarta and falling to a narrow 2-1 home defeat to AFC Asian Cup 2019 semi-finalists, the UAE.
Johor Darul Ta’zim defender Aidil Zafuan was recalled to add experience to the rearguard while midfielder Abdul Halim Saari received a call up after impressing for Selangor.
The most recent meeting between the two sides on the same ground was the happiest of occasions for the hosts who earned a famous victory thanks to a Nguyen Anh Duc goal to lift the 2018 AFF Cup.
VIETNAM v MALAYSIA
My Dinh National Stadium, Hanoi
Kick-off: 2000 hours (UTC +7)
UAE v INDONESIA
After a hard-fought 2-1 win in Kuala Lumpur last month, the UAE return home for their first competitive appearance in front of their own crowd since the 4-0 defeat against Qatar in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final in January.
Former Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Australia coach Bert van Marwijk replaced Alberto Zaccheroni and set out for a rebuilding job.
The Whites are boosted by the return of 2015 Asian Player of The Year Ahmed Khalil from injury, while his award successor Omar Abdulrahman has struggled for fitness and could be left on the bench and young playmaker Khalfan Mubarak misses the Indonesia clash with injury.
There could be a debut for 21-year-old Abdullah Ramadan, the UAE-born midfielder of Egyptian ancestry starred for Al Jazira last season and has continued his stellar form into this campaign, earning a first call-up by van Marwijk and could find himself slotted into a starting midfield slot with injuries plighting the side.
Indonesia were hard done by an added-time 3-2 defeat to rivals Malaysia in front of 54,000 fans in Jakarta; a record attendance for the current qualifiers campaign. Further disappointment came with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Thailand, leaving Indonesia bottom of the group with no points from two.
The UAE hold precious memories from their sole encounter against Indonesia in AFC competitions; a 2-0 win in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup group stage set the tone for their best-ever finish in the competition, winning silver on home soil.
UAE v INDONESIA
Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
Kick-off: 2000 hours (UTC +4)
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