Don't expect Harimau to give South Korea too much respect

KUALA LUMPUR: Midfielder Stuart Wilkin said next month's Asian Cup in Doha will give Harimau Malaya the rare chance to test their skills against the "levels" of the English Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

This comes after South Korea coach Jurgen Klinsmann called up 12 Europe-based players to be part of his 26-man squad for the Asian Cup.

Among the Korean stars are Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung Min, Paris Saint-Germain's Lee Kang In, Wolverhampton Wanderers' Hwang Hee Chan and VfB Stuttgart's Jeong Woo Yyeong.

Stuart, 25, who is of Malaysian-English parentage, played for the Southampton youth team previously.

"No doubt, these guys are EPL-level and it's a huge challenge for us. But we're all excited to challenge ourselves to see where we are," said Stuart.

On coach Kim Pan Gon's advice to the Malaysians in facing these big names, Stuart said: "We have to be respectful of our opponents but not give them too much respect.

"We need to respect ourselves, and see at which level we can play at. We need to go out there, fight, challenge and don't give the opponents too much space to do what they want."

World No. l30 Malaysia, making a return to the Asian Cup on merit after 42 years, will play No. 87 Jordan on Jan 15, No. 86 Bahrain on Jan 20 and No. 23 South Korea on Jan 25 in Group E.

"We're super excited for the Asian Cup because it's a chance to test ourselves against these types of opponents. We want to prove that our good results this year are not a fluke," said Stuart.

This year, Malaysia recorded nine wins, two draws and two losses. This includes beating Kyrgyzstan 4-3 and Taiwan 1-0 in World Cup qualifiers.

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