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Malaysia won't be taken lightly by Lebanon in AFC Asian Cup qualifier

Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic wants his team to be on their toes when they face Malaysia in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier at Larkin Stadium on Tuesday night.

Radulovic's men lead Group B heading into the second matchday after they beat Hong Kong 2-0 on March 28.<

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But the Montenegrin boss says the Malaysians -- 20 rungs below them at 155th in the FIFA rankings -- cannot be taken lightly with a new coach in Portugal's Nelo Vingada.

"We cannot underestimate any opponent in the qualifiers. Malaysia have a new coach in Vingada and he may offer something new to his team," Radulovic told the New Straits Times.

"We have been focusing on fitness since the first day of training. The goal for my players to perform on Tuesday like they did in the first half against Hong Kong."

Lebanon's in-form striker Mohammed Ghaddar, who scored the opening goal in that match, has been mysteriously dropped due to differences with his coaching staff.

Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic
Montenegrin Miodrag Radulovic has been Lebanon's head coach since 2015.

But despite Ghaddar's absence, Lebanon still have other players who could give Vingada's men a torrid time.

Up front, Radulovic still has Malaysian-based Moataz Bellah from Felda United and new Kelantan signing Abu Bakr El Mel.

Adding bite to the Lebanese frontline is Omar Bugiel, who helped English League Two club Forest Green to a mid-table finish this season.

Vingada, who won the AFC Asian Cup with Saudi Arabia in 1996 but has struggled for success in recent years, is desperate to start his tenure on a winning note.

His preparations have been hampered by injuries to Johor Darul Ta'zim defenders Aidil Zafuan Razak, S. Kunanlan, Azrif Nasrulhaq and Fazly Mazlan.

But Vingada will be optimistic of getting a result with return to the squad of in-form Safiq Rahim, who returns from international retirement along with JDT teammate Amirulhadi Zainal.

Besides Safiq, Malaysia can bank on Azamuddin Akil, Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria and veteran forwards Amri Yahyah and Safee Sali for goals in the 26-man squad.

  

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