Harimau Malaya can take Viets down

KUALA LUMPUR: It will be a tough, but not an impossible, mission.

That was the gist of the reply from Harimau Malaya left-back La’Vere Lawrence Corbin-Ong when asked about the national team’s prospects against Vietnam when the two teams meet in the second round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers/2023 Asia Cup 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday (June 11).

To achieve that, though, he said all the national players must be 100 percent focused and prepared.

Recalling the last time the two teams met, when Malaysia lost 1-0 to coach Park Hang-seo’s Golden Dragons in October 2019 at Hanoi, Corbin-Ong admitted that the Harimau Malaya found it difficult to break them down as they were a very compact and well-disciplined team.

“Basically, they played with a back five and it was quite difficult to find space around the Vietnamese team … they like to press, (they are) very fit and work as a compact unit. However, I believe we can break them down if we work as a unit when we play them (on Friday),” the Johor Darul Ta’zim player told a virtual press conference today (June 7).

The 30-year-old Corbin-Ong also believes that Malaysia should take advantage of the height of players like Liridon Krasniqi (1.92m), Junior Eldstal (1.91m) and Dion Cools (1.85m) when it comes to set-pieces against Vietnam.

Corbin-Ong, however, was full of praise for newcomer Cools, who is of Belgian-Malaysian parentage, describing him as a “top quality player” despite only joining the Harimau Malaya last week.

Corbin-Ong also explained that he was still working on forging an understanding with the Kuching-born Cools, who plays for Danish Superliga side FC Midtjylland.

The London-born Corbin-Ong also described team spirit as being high despite their crushing 4-0 loss to the UAE at the Zabeel Stadium last Friday (June 4).

After taking on Vietnam, Malaysia will wrap up their Group G fixtures against Thailand on June 15, also at the Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai.

Malaysia are currently fourth in Group G with nine points, the same as second-placed UAE and third-placed Thailand, who both have superior goal difference. Vietnam lead the standings with 11 points while Indonesia are rooted to the bottom with one point. – Bernama