S. Kunanlan, Fadhli Shas back for Malaysia's Asian Cup qualifiers

Nelo Vingada has called up 12 players from champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) for Malaysia's AFC Asian Cup qualifying double header against North Korea on Nov. 10 and Nov. 13 on neutral soil in Thailand.

S. Kunanlan, Fadhli Shas, Junior Eldstal, Fazly Mazlan, Izham Tarmizi, Afiq Fazail and Azrif Nasrulhaq are among the new faces selected by the winless Portuguese boss for the the crucial Group B matches.

And young Kedah forward Syafiq Ahmad is in line to make his senior debut after being included in the 24-man squad for the games in Buriram.

Vingada has left out Ifwat Akmal, Khairul Helmi Johari, Akram Mahinan, Fitri Omar, Matthew Davies, Amirulhadi Zainal and the injured Shahrel Fikri after garnering only one point from matches against Hong Kong on Sept. 5 and Oct. 10.

Those setbacks, coupled with the 2-1 loss to Lebanon in June, leave the Malaysians needing maximum points against the North Korean to stand a realistic chance of qualifying to the regional showcase in 2019.

As it stands, the Harimau Malaya are bottom of Group B with a solitary point.

Lebanon lead the group on 10 points, followed by Hong Kong on five points and North Korea on two.

The Southern Tigers stars should beef up the national team, who have been sub-par since Vingada took over in June.

The addition of Eldstal, Fazly and Kunanlan is expected to shore up the gaping holes in defence, which was exposed in the 2-0 defeat in Hong Kong on Oct.10.

Eldstal can provide physical stability from set pieces and crosses, while Kunanlan and Fazly's pace -- bombing forward and tracking back to defend -- will be crucial against the mobile North Koreans.

Only 10 players will report for the first phase of training at Football Association of Malaysia headquarters on Nov. 4.

JDT and Kedah players, who are involved in the Malaysia Cup final, will join their teammates on Nov. 6.

The national squad will leave for Buriram via Bangok the following day.

Malaysia squad to face North Korea

Safiq Rahim (JDT), Ahmad Hazwan Bakri (JDT), Darren Lok (JDT), Nazmi Faiz Mansor (JDT), Safawi Rasid (JDT), Fadhli Shas (JDT), Fazly Mazlan (JDT), Izham Tarmizi (JDT), Junior Eldstal (JDT), Afiq Fazail (JDT), S. Kunanlan (JDT), Azrif Nasrulhaq (JDT), Hafizul Hakim (Perak), Shahrom Kalam (Perak), Nazirul Naim (Perak), Amirul Azhan (Perak), Baddrol Bakhtiar (Kedah), Syafiq Ahmad (Kedah), Kiko Insa (Pahang), Nor Azam Abdul Azih (Pahang), Khairul Azhan Khalid (Selangor), Wan Zack Haikal (Felda United), Adam Nor Azlin (Selangor), Syamer Kutty Abba (Penang)