Malaysia to hire FIFA rankings' consultant after falling to 167th

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) want to hire a rankings' consultant after dropping 12 spots to 167th on the latest FIFA list in the wake of last month's 2-1 home defeat to Lebanon to start their AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

The Malaysians, whose only other game this year ended in a goalless draw away to Philippines in March, fell to their lowest position since April 2016 when they occupied 174th spot.

But the troubled national body say they have a plan to improve a position that sees them below Myanmar, but still two spots above the equally wretched Singapore.

"On the next FIFA competition dates in September, we will have a few friendlies to earn points," FAM secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Amin said via the FAM Facebook page.

"The FAM will also re-evaluate the match schedule and appoint a ranking consultant as practised in India. We have also appointed a technical director who will begin duty in September, alongside a ranking consultant."

India climbed to 96th in the world on the latest list, which was their highest position since 1996, and 71 spots above Malaysia.

But Datuk Hamidin tempered expectations when he added: "There is not much that can be done in just 100 days. Our thinking must be realistic."

While the ranking does justice to Malaysia who are winless in their last four international matches -- losing three of them -- things could pick up for the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup champions in the coming months.

Unlike his predecessor Ong Kim Swee, new coach Nelo Vingada has access to the nation's best players, including those from champions, Johor Darul Ta'zim.

Malaysia would fancy their chances of beating Hong Kong on home soil in their next Asian Cup qualifier on Sep. 5, even though the former British colony is ranked 20 spots above them.

The Harimau Malaya could get also get a result against North Korea if their re-arranged match is held at a neutral venue. The earlier games on March 28 and June 8 were postponed due to security concerns and strained diplomatic ties.

One of the key areas Vingada needs to work on is the fitness levels of the players, who have a habit of tiring over the final 20 minutes. They took the lead in Johor Bahru on June 13 before conceding twice in the last quarter of an hour to hand under-strength Lebanon victory.

Malaysia are hoping to appear in their first AFC Asian Cup in 12 years after co-hosting the 2007 tournament with Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

In that tournament, they lost all three group games heavily in front of their own fans, as Iraq were crowned champions.