Thursday, November 17, 2011

Walking on thin ice

YELLOW FEVER: Six players risk suspension

sea games
Malaysian players during a training session in preparation for the crucial match against Indonesia today.
With six players on yellow cards, Malaysia are treading thin ice as they look to secure the one point needed against Indonesia today to reach the football semi-finals.

 Tempers have to be kept in check with national coach Ong Kim Swee preaching caution in a match expected to be heavily influenced by hostility from the terraces at the 100,000-capacity Gelora Bung Karno.

   The fact that Indonesia's opponents Singapore and Thailand had one and two players sent off respectively has not been lost on coach Ong Kim Swee.

   Ironically, it was a Malaysian referee, Suhaizi Shukri, who took charge of the Indonesia-Thailand match.

   Malaysia will kick off the match at 8pm knowing what they need to do as Singapore, three points behind Kim Swee's side in Group A, face already-eliminated Thailand three hours earlier.

   "We must not get carried away by the crowd's reaction. We have seen in the Singapore and Thailand matches against Indonesia how they have had players sent off.

   "We cannot fall into the same trap. We expect some provocation but the players have to be strong in character. They will have to be in control, keep their emotions in check and not get into trouble," said Kim Swee.

   Keeping out of trouble will be important for defenders Fadhli Shas and Mahalli Jasuli, midfielders Fandi Othman, K. Gurusamy and Nazmi Faiz Mansor and striker Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim.

   Of the six, only Gurusamy may not start against Indonesia as Kim Swee is not expecting Thailand to do Malaysia a favour.

  "I don't expect Thailand to lose 4-0 but I can't hope for them to win either. Anyway, we are focused on only our match and doing what we have to do.

  "Even if Indonesia choose to field their reserves (since they have already qualified), we can't expect to have it easy," added Kim Swee, who is expected to restore Syahrul and Fandi to the first XI after leaving them out in the 4-1 win over Cambodia on Sunday.

   Indonesia coach Rahmad Darmawan is mulling over his options and could rest up to five regulars but is still bent on beating Malaysia.

   "We are not taking Malaysia lightly. I have instructed my players to be serious about this game. We still want to beat Malaysia as a reward to our supporters," Rahmad said on

   The Group A winners can expect to face Myanmar in the semi-finals while Vietnam should top Group B by beating Laos today at Lebak Bulus.

Read more: NST

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