Ghaddar absence in Asian Cup qualifier gives Malaysia edge - Chanturu
Midfielder S. Chanturu believes Malaysia are primed for three points against Lebanon in their opening 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier with the absence of his new Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) teammate Mohammed Ghaddar.
The hotshot striker has set the Malaysia Super League alight this season with 18 goals to his name to lead the scoring charts.
The two nations face off at Johor Bahru's Larkin Stadium on June 13.
Despite the game being played on his new home ground, and the fact that he scored in the opening Group B qualifier against Hong Kong on March 28, the forward has been mysteriously dropped from the Lebanon squad after an issue with the coaching staff last week.
Chanturu, who knows Ghaddar well from their days together at Kelantan, feels Ghaddar's absence will make a big difference to the match.
"It is actually an advantage that he is not playing against us," Chanturu told ESPN FC.
"He has done really well this season to score that many goals, and him not playing surely comes as a relief. But having said that, Lebanon have so many other dangerous players, and we cannot take anything for granted."
Chanturu and his JDT teammates checked into national team centralised training last Friday to complete the 26-man squad.
Lebanon beat Hong Kong 2-0 on March 28 to top Group B.
Dubbed the "Kelantan Express" due to his blistering pace, Chanturu has seen limited game time for the Southern Tigers this year, with only a handful of appearances off the bench.
But in his return to the national team after almost a year, Chantaru wants to be given a chance to prove his credentials under new head coach Nelo Vingada.
"So far we have been training well with the new coach, and he seems to be tactically adept. I am honoured to get this call up after such a long time, and hopefully I can show the coach of my abilities if given a chance to play," Chantaru said.
"Victory would also give the new Football Association of Malaysia management a lift, and show that we are moving in the right direction. Everything will take time, but we are ready for this test."
Chanturu will, nonetheless, be behind pecking order on the right wing when Malaysia take on Lebanon, with JDT teammates Azamuddin Akil and the versatile Mahali Jasuli likely candidates for a starting berth.
The Southern Tigers also have a smaller representation for this match after Aidil Zafuan Razak, S. Kunanlan, Fazly Mazlan and Azrif Nasrulhaq pulled out due to injuries.
Vingada has replaced the quartet with Nazrin Syamsul Bahri of PKNS FC, Pahang duo Faisal Rosli and Afif Amiruddin as well as Perak's Nazirul Naim.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.