Malaysia vs India: Preview and Prediction
India will lock horns against Malaysia in the first match of the 2023 Merdeka Cup at Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. The winner of the match will head into the final, where they’ll face Tajikistan, who were initially going to face the Palestinian men’s football team.
However, Palestine had to withdraw its participation from the 2023 Merdeka Cup because of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. As a result, Tajikistan directly qualified for the final of the competition, which will take place on October 17.
In September, Malaysia played their last international match, which was a friendly fixture against China. Faisal Abdul Halim scored in the 11th minute of the match with the help of an assist from Akhyar Rashid and gave Harimau Malaya an early lead against China. Nevertheless, the Dragon’s Team managed to find the equalizer in the first half too. The fixture ended as a 1-1 draw.
Before the friendly, they were playing in the AFF Championship in January. In the tournament, they defeated the likes of Laos, Singapore, and Myanmar. However, they also suffered defeats against Vietnam and Thailand. They are placed 134th in the FIFA ranking, which is more than thirty ranks behind India’s place on the list (102).
On the other hand, India recently participated in the 2023 Asian Games where they were eliminated in the Round of 16 against Saudi Arabia. The Blue Tigers commenced their campaign against China with a 5-1 loss. After a throbbing loss, they took down the likes of Bangladesh 1-0, before playing a 1-1 draw against Myanmar.
Before stepping into the Asian Games, India finished fourth in the 2023 King’s Cup. The Blue Tigers gave tough competition to Iraq, who are ranked 69th, as the match went into the penalties. However, the result went in the favour of the opposition as Iraq managed to win the match (7-6). Igor Stimac’s men later played a third-place match against Lebanon, which also resulted in a loss for the reigning SAFF Championship winners.
Head to Head Record
India and Malaysia faced off against each other for the first time in 1959. Since then, the two sides have squared off for a total of 24 times. Harimau Malaya has managed to win ten matches while the Blue Tigers have recorded seven victories against Malaysia. The remaining seven matches between the two nations have ended in a draw.
Moreover, the two sides will be meeting for the 14th time in this year’s Merdeka Cup. They crossed paths for the last time in November 2011. India and Malaysia played against each other twice in the same month. The first fixture ended as a 1-1 draw, while the Blue Tigers later defeated Malaysia 3-2.
The Malaysian men’s football team skipped the 2023 Asian Games that took place in Hangzhou, earlier this month. Hence, they’ll be prepared, mentally and physically to host the Indian team at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, which has the seating capacity for more than 85,000 spectators. Kim Pan-gon’s side will face Igor Stimac’s India with their best squad on October 13.
The Indian men’s football team arrived in Kuala Lumpur on October 9. Since then, they have been training and getting prepared to face the hosts in the first match of the 2023 Merdeka Cup.
Talking about the team, Sunil Chettri has made his return to the squad under Igor Stimac after the King’s Cup. However, Phurba Lachenpa has been dropped from the squad and Mohun Bagan SG goalkeeper Vishal Kaith has been named in the team.
Apart from Lachenpa, attacker Rahim Ali and defender Chinglensana Singh have also been dropped by the selectors as Lalchungnunga and Vikram Pratap Singh have been called into the travelling contingent. No injuries or suspensions have been reported from the Indian side, hence, the Blue Tigers will face Malaysia at full strength.
Malaysia (4-2-3-1): Syihan Hazmi, Matthew Davies, Dominic Tan, Dion Cools ©, La Vere Corbin-Ong, Endrick, Brendan Gan, Faisal Halim, Paulo Josué, Akhyar Rashid, Yan Junling
India (4-3-3): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mahesh Singh Naorem, Sunil Chettri ©, Nandhakumar Sekar
The Blue Tigers have played a winsome amount of international football in the last few months under Igor Stimac. They also mounted up into the ranks after they defeated Lebanon in the final of the SAFF Championships. However, after unfavourable results in the 2023 King’s Cup in Thailand, they dropped two spots.
Nevertheless, the Indian team is still the favorite to win the 2023 Merdeka Cup. The full squad is back because of the pause in the Indian Super League and the Blue Tigers are looking strong to overcome the likes of Malaysia in the opening match of the tournament.