Philippines host Malaysia at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on 22 March in an international friendly, which will also serve as a warm-up match for the hosts ahead of their 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying campaign, which kickstarts against Nepal next Tuesday.
While Malaysia were also scheduled to begin their Asian Cup qualifying campaign on 28 March against North Korea, their visit to Pyongyang has been postponed due to the strain in relationship between the two Asian countries. However, coach Ong Kim Swee, whose future remains uncertain as changes are reportedly expected to happen after the Football Association of Malaysia election on 25 March, will be looking to clinch a win on Wednesday.
Notably, quite a few parties have expressed interest to remove the former international, whose contract runs out only at the end of this year, as coach.
Having been ousted from the AFF Suzuki Cup as early as in the group stages, Kim Swee has a lot to prove and the first international fixture of the new season has come at the right time with his players having enough match practise as the local league is well into its eighth week.
However, a stiff test awaits Kim Swee and his men as Philippines are a dangerous unit at home and they will be hoping to make amends for their poor Suzuki Cup campaign last year. Thomas Dooley's side would want to head into the Asian Cup qualifier against Nepal next Tuesday with a win under their belt and a lot will depend on Chinese Super League striker Javier Patino, who will be eyeing to impress on his comeback.
Mark Hartmann will also be expected to play a key role as he has been plying his trade for Super League side Sarawak. Phil and James Younghusband along with Mike Ott and Hikaru Minegishi are players the visitors need to watch out for if they are to clinch a positive result in Manila.
Possible XI: Muller; Daniels, Aguinaldo, Casambre, Christiaens; minegishi, P Younghusband, Manuel Ott, Steuble, Mike; Patino
Possible XI: Khairulazhan; Jones, Harun, Shahrom, Davies; Amri, Shahrul Saad, Baddrol; Bakri, Sali, Zainon