Malaysia have better football facilities, leagues and clubs compared to Nepal.
That’s why Nepal coach Johan Kalin is shocked that Malaysia are ranked lower than his team in the recent world football governing body (FIFA) rankings.
Today, the world No. 161 Nepal take on Malaysia, 168th, in a friendly match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil to prepare for the first qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup.
“I was a bit surprised when I saw the FIFA rankings. Malaysia have a huge league. It’s competitive and some top players are playing in it,” said Johan.
“They look solid and recently, they defeated Afghanistan 2-1, a team ranked higher than us. They also beat the Maldives (3-0) last year.
“The ranking is surprising, but we will not take Malaysia lightly. We’ll also play Taiwan in another friendly.
“These friendlies will help us prepare for the World Cup qualifiers. The qualifiers will be tough because we will face higher ranked teams.
Nepal are in the second qualifying round, which also doubles up as the qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Johan said he was focused on building a team for the future.
“The result is not important right now. We want to implement the best way of playing.
“I want the boys to be comfortable with the tactics and improve the organisation on the pitch,” added Johan, who has worked at club level in Nepal before.
Nepal captain Biraj Maharjan said: “Our coach is friendly, and is doing his best to perfect our game. The match against Malaysia is an important benchmark for us to gauge our game.”
Meanwhile, Harimau Malaya take on Timor Leste in a two-leg fixture of the 2022 World Cup qualifying round on June 7 and 11 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.