Former Hyundai A-League attacking midfielder Alex Smith says the conditions at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malaysia will be difficult for the Caltex Socceroos.
And he says the Syrian keeper has an unusual method of clearing the ball.
Smith, 32, has played in Melaka a couple of times during his two year stint in the Malaysian leagues with Negeri Sembilan and JTD II.
The former Wellington Phoenix and Sydney Olympic favourite tells www.socceroos.com.au that the pitch is likely not to suit Australia’s speedy passing game.
And after watching them in group qualification, he was surprised by their keeper’s method of distributing the ball.
HANG JEBAT STADIUM
It’s a huge ground. Massive. There’s a great supporter base in Melaka for the club side. The pitch isn’t the best. It isn’t going to suit the Socceroos. It’s cow grass and it’ll be long and not good for the passing game.
There’s no winter in Malaysia. It stays around 32-38 degrees the whole year. And that’s right in the rainy season October. And when those pitches get wet they’re tough to play on.
So it’ll be hot. We used to kick off at 9pm. It’s going to be hot and humid and probably wet playing on a cow paddock. Hopefully they’ve done some work to get it up to standard.
But it’s the Augustus grass, not your usual football pitch grass.
And the training grounds in Melaka will be the same as the stadium. Probably worse. So these are things that have to be considered. It’s not all glitz and glamour.
It could be an eye-opener for a couple of Socceroos. But you’ve just got to deal with it.
Melaka is about an hour south of KL. It’s a beautiful little town, steeped in history. I’d stay in KL if I was them. Not sure if the hotel would be anything flash.
LOCAL SUPPORT FOR SYRIA
Not really. I saw them play Korea Republic at Negeri Sembilan’s stadium. It seats 45,000 and there was about a few thousand Koreans and nobody else.
They won’t be getting much support. Then again I don’t know how many Socceroos fans will be there.
The support in Malaysia for football is quite big so you never know, there may be some neutral fans.
For the Socceroos, this is massive. But I’m not sure how many fans will be there next Thursday night. I don’t know if they’ll get the atmosphere there.
If they can get out of there with a goal or two they can come back for the home leg. But they’ve just got to get through it.
It’ll be a mental battle.