Malaysia kickstart their AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifying campaign against higher-ranked Lebanon in a Group B clash at Larkin Stadium in Johor Baru on Tuesday.
Malaysia were supposed to take on Korea DPR in the opener, but the fixture was postponed twice due to political and safety issues and will now be played on 5 October. As a result, the 155th-ranked have played only one match this year - a goalless draw against Philippines on the road in March.
On the other hand, Lebanon are heading into the tie on the back of beating Hong Kong 2-0 in their Group B opener in March.
Malaysia are boosted by comebacks of Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, Amirulhadi Zainal and S Kunanlan as the Johor Darul Ta'zim quartet, who retired last year after disagreement between the Super League club and the Football Association of Malaysia, decided to reverse their decisions after JDT boss Tunku Ismail was chosen as FAM president earlier this year.
The Tigers are also heading into the tournament with their first foreign coach since 2004 - Portugal's Nelo Vingada, who has been leading the team's new training venue in Johor, which has state-of-the-art facilities. There is a lot expectation on the 64-year-old tactician as he has replaced Ong Kim Swee, who had faced the disappointment of a group stage exit at last year's AFF Suzuki Cup.
Safiq has been assigned with the task of leading the team once again and he will be key to the team's chances against higher-ranked Lebanon. Amirulhadi is the other player among the comeback men to be available for the clash and he is likely to make the playing XI along with striker Hazwan Bakri. In Amri Yayah and Safee Sali, Vingada also has a solid bench strength to rely on.
On the other hand, Lebanon will be without Johor Darul Ta'zim striker Mohammed Ghaddar as he opted out of the tie. However, Miodrag Radulovic's side has the likes of Kelantan FA striker Abou Bakr Al Mel and Moataz Bellah, who are valuable to the team on Tuesday with their exposure to Malaysian football.
Possible XI: Khairulazhan; Nazirul, Shahron, Helmi, Rizal; Amirulhadli, Safiq, Mahali; Syazwan, Hazwan, Baddrol
Possible XI: Khalil; Hamam, Jounaidi, Mansour, Matar; Nassar, Maatouk, Faour, Ayass; Bakr Al Mel, Haidar