Darren Lok aims to start in Malaysia's Asian Cup qualifier vs. Hong Kong
Darren Lok, the English-born striker of Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT), is set to lead the Malaysia attack in the vital AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
A rare away victory would give Nelo Vingada's side a huge boost in their bid to make the finals in the United Arab Emirates.
And with Ahmad Hazwan Bakri out through injury, 26-year-old Lok is expected to be at the pointy end of the Malaysian forward line against Hong Kong.
The JDT striker back in form following a difficult first half of the year in which he struggled with an ankle injury.
"I definitely feel sharper and that's good," said Lok, as quoted by The Star. "Nothing is confirmed yet as far I know. I'll just focus on working hard in training for a spot in the national team's starting XI."
The Harimau Malaya are a point behind Hong Kong at the bottom of Group B, but they have a game-in-hand, due to their thrice postponed match in North Korea.
The Malaysians were disappointed to draw 1-1 with Hong Kong when the sides met in Malacca last month. The scorer for the visitors was Brazilian-born Sandro, one of several experienced foreign-born players in the Dragons' lineup.
Sussex native Lok, who was promoted from JDT II to JDT's first team this year, acknowledges that the various Brazil-born and Spanish-born players are key to Hong Kong's physical strength. But he believes that the Malaysians are good enough to get the result they require.
"Hong Kong's naturalised players certainly give them the physical edge, but I thought we played some good football against them at home," Lok said.
"We created some good attacking moves against them too. We just need to cut out on individual errors and try to keep a clean sheet."
In Group B's other game on Tuesday, leaders Lebanon host North Korea. A victory for the home nation would probably be a positive result for the Malaysians, leaving the battle for second place wide open.
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