Kedah anchorman Akram Mahinan has warned his Malaysia teammates to be wary of "tricky" Hong Kong in their AFC Asian Cup qualifier on Oct. 10.
The two nations face off at Hong Kong National Stadium just five weeks after playing out a 1-1 draw in Malacca.
Akram came on as a substitute in that game on Sep. 5 at Hang Jebat Stadium, only to give away a last-minute penalty, which goalkeeper Hafizul Hakim saved to salvage a draw.
But the 24-year-old insists that Australian referee Chris Beath was deceived into making that crucial call.
"The penalty was a harsh one. The Hong Kong player threw himself to the ground and managed to trick the referee to award the penalty," Akram told The Star.
"These things happen in football and it was a lesson for us. We know what [Hong Kong] are capable of and we will be more careful against them."
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Malaysia head coach Nelo Vingada finds himself under-fire after failing to win his first four matches since taking charge in May.
His team slid to a 2-1 defeat to Group B leaders Lebanon in the first qualifying match on June 13 before escaping with a draw in Malacca after Hafizul's heroics.
There was also the 2-1 home defeat to Syria and 1-0 away loss to Myanmar in the build up to the Hong Kong home clash.
This time around, the Portuguese boss has called up six players from the under-22 side who finished runners-up at the Southeast (SEA) Asian Games men's football in August.
Like many of his teammates, Akram feels Vingada's appointment will be vindicated with more time.
"We have to remember the coach has only been in charge for four matches, and he's still trying out new players. We are getting closer to the right formula for the team, and I hope the match against Hong Kong will be the turning point in our campaign," Akram said.
Malaysia are bottom of the group with only a point to their name from two home matches.
Lebanon lead Group B on seven points, while North Korea and Hong Kong are tied on two points each.
The national team will report for centralised training at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) headquarters on Wednesday.
They are scheduled to fly to Hong Kong on Oct. 6 to face Kim Pan-Gon's side at Hong Kong Stadium four days later.
The Harimau Malaya were supposed to play North Korea on Oct. 5, but the Asian Football Confederation called off the match for the third time after Malaysian authorities issued a ban on travel to the Republic.