After beating Hong Kong 2-0 last night, experienced midfielder Safiq Rahim admitted that the Harimau Malaya squad are desperate to succeed and aim to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.
Safiq said the 2023 Asian Cup qualifying campaign which will begin next week would be the best opportunity for the national players to make history in the country’s football.
The Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) player said the players must make the most of playing at home and turn it to advantage when all the qualifying round matches involving the national team take place at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium here.
“This opportunity will not come again, all my teammates and I must carry out our responsibilities as players…we really want to achieve success and qualify for the next round.
“So I hope all football fans in Malaysia can pray for the team. The 12th player is very important for the team, do support us no matter where the team are, we as players really need the support from everyone,” he said when met after the Tier 1 international friendly match against Hong Kong last night.
In the match which was held at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here, Malaysia scored a goal in each half to beat Hong Kong 2-0.
Muhammad Safawi Rasid put Malaysia in front after converting a penalty in the 31st minute, while Safiq who came on as a substitute in the second half managed to get goal number two for Harimau Malaya through a free kick in the dying seconds.
Safiq described the victory in front of about 19,075 spectators as well as the success in beating Brunei in a friendly match last Friday, as the best motivation ahead of the maiden clash against Turkmenistan in Group E of the Asian Cup qualifiers on June 8, here.
“Alhamdulillah, we managed to give our best for the team (in two friendly matches) and we will overcome our weaknesses, we still have time before the first match starts,” he said.
After the match against Turkmenistan, the Harimau Malaya squad managed by Kim Pan-gon of South Korea will face Bahrain on June 11 and Bangladesh three days later (June 14) to hunt for the Asian Cup ticket.
The national squad will end their more than 40-year wait to qualify on merit for the Asian Cup since the 1980 edition in Kuwait if they emerge as five best second-placed teams in the qualifiers.
The last time Malaysia played in the Asian Cup was when they co-hosted the 2007 edition.