Thursday, 6 December 2012

Rajagobal unconcerned by fitness issues

Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia coach K.Rajagobal is confident that striker Safee Sali and midfielder Shakir Shaari will be ready to return to action on Sunday for the showdown against Thailand in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals.

Safee, the leading scorer in Malaysia’s victorious AFF Suzuki Cup campaign two years ago, has been suffering from fatigue while Shakir was taken off late in the first half with an ankle problem during the Harimau Malaya’s 2-0 win over Indonesia in their last Group B match on Saturday.

While Rajagobal is less confident about the availability of S. Kunanlan and Khyril Muhymeen Zambri after they both missed the Indonesia match with groin injuries, he believes that the rest of his players will be ready for the match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

“The situation with Safee and Shakir is not worrying at all. They will have time to recover,” said the Malaysia coach to The Star.

“But Kunalan and Khyril cannot be forced to play if they are not fully fit. We will see in a few days’ time,” Rajagobal added.

Safee, who netted five goals in the 2010 competition, did not look sharp during the group stage as he netted only one goal and squandered numerous other opportunities in Malaysia’s three matches.

While he complained of fatigue and cramps after last weekend’s match, he is determined to get things right when Malaysia continue the defence of their Asean crown against the highly-fancied Thais who topped Group A with a perfect record.

“It’s nothing worrying … just a little bit tired and my muscles are a bit sore from all the effort,” said the 28-year-old striker of his fitness.

While Safee would drop deep to gather possession during Malaysia’s matches in the group stage, he feels that a more direct approach may be needed against the Thais.

“We need to score first and win. I will change my game and listen to the coach,” he added.

Malaysia have managed only two wins and lost four of the eight matches that they have played against the Thais in the Asean Football Championship. However, the Tigers beat the Elephants 2-1 in their only previous match in the competition at Bukit Jalil in 2004.

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