Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s Harimau Malaysia squad were handed the task of facing Timor-Leste twice in the play-off round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on the 2nd and 7th of June.
The national team will advance to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers should they manage an overall win in both legs against the 171st-ranked team in the world. However, if Malaysia loses against them, they will face either Chinese Taipei or Cambodia to stand a chance of playing in the next round, which will be held on September 6 and October 11.
A total of 24 teams will be divided into six groups of four teams each to play home-and-away round-robin matches and compete for the remaining slots for the 2019 Asian Cup.
Malaysia achieved four points (one win, one draw) after facing Timor-Leste in Bukit Jalil and Dili in the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers last year.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
Datuk Ong Kim Swee will be relieved after being handed a familiar opponent. He has witnessed Dollah Salleh win 1-0 away from home courtesy of an Amri Yahya goal and draw 1-1 at the Shah Alam Stadium, only to concede in the dying seconds of the game. Should Malaysia win this playoff match, they will have go through another qualifying round — this time, a group stage, to determine if they can actually compete in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates. They may face the daunting likes of Afghanistan, Jordan, Kuwait and Singapore in the qualifying group stages. It will be an uphill task for Harimau Malaysia if we successfully advance to the third round, but with Johor Darul Ta’azim’s (JDT) assistance to improve the national team, anything is possible.