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Tan confident newcomers will deliver for Malaysia in Asian Qualifiers


Kuala Lumpur: Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe is counting on several newcomers to provide Malaysia with additional depth for their Asian Qualifiers campaign.

Tan has named a 25-member training squad with Belgian-based Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, Johor Darul Ta'zim's Arif Aiman Hanapi and naturalised players Liridon Krasniqi and Guilherme de Paula all new inclusions.

Malaysia are on nine points from five matches in Group G of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023. Vietnam are on top with 11 points, Thailand third (8), followed by the UAE (6) and Indonesia, who have yet to register a point after five matches.

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Tan said the situation is not ideal but believes the newcomers will fit in nicely with the seasoned players.

"We have not played an international match in 18 months, so it will not be easy for everyone to return to the scene again," said Tan to local media. "I do not want to pressure the players too much in training.

The eight group winners and four best second-placed teams - five if Qatar finish top of Group E - will advance to the third round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which will also seal them a seat in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.

Those who don't advance to the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers still have a chance at AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualification, meaning the stakes are high for Tan's side.

"The aim is to regain our momentum as we need good results in the Qualifiers to advance to the next round," said Tan.

The coach will use friendlies against Kuwait (May 23) and Bahrain (May 28) to test players and formations before their qualifying campaign resumes.

"I will use the friendly matches to gauge the team and make adjustments if necessary before the Qualifiers."

Also included in the squad are Thailand-based Dominic Tan and Junior Eldstal with the local players reporting for training in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday before heading to Dubai on Thursday.

Group G will be played in the centralised venue of Dubai with Malaysia facing hosts UAE on June 3, followed by ties against Vietnam (June 11) and Thailand (June 15).

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