Harimau Malaya hope to shock Turkmenistan again

KUALA LUMPUR: Will lightning strike twice when the national football team take on Turkmenistan in a friendly match at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puteri tomorrow?

Last year, world No. 145 Harimau Malaya stunned the 135th-ranked Turkmenistan, nicknamed the Emerald Greens, 3-1 in the Asian Cup qualifiers at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on June 8.

Turkmenistan new coach Mergen Orazov, who replaced Yazguly Hojageldyyew in January, wants revenge as he guides his men for the first time in an international match.

National team coach Kim Pan Gon is confident Harimau Malaya can upset Turkmenistan, who are keen on making up for their shock defeat last year, again.

It will be Harimau Malaya's fourth match of the year. They defeated Singapore 4-1 in the AFF Cup group stage, followed by a 1-0 win over Thailand in the first leg semi-finals, before going down 3-0 to the War Elephants in the return leg in January.

"Our goal is to take on higher-ranked teams in friendly matches. This is to ensure my players will keep learning something against superior opponents," Pan Gon said in Johor Baru today.

"I believe Turkmenistan want to show that they are better than us, but we are ready to face them. We want to prove that we are better than them."

Pan Gon believes tomorrow's match will be an exciting affair and hopes his charges will show their class against Turkmenistan.

"I want my players to show their quality and play to tactics during Ramadan. The management has prepared a special diet programme for the players, who will be fasting.

"Friendly matches are not only about results. We want to see how every player performs and whether they can adapt to the Malaysian DNA."

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