Emedia - When you play a side regarded as one of the favourites to reach Athens 2004, you need all your best men at your disposal.
Malaysian coach, Allan Harris, however, does not enjoy the luxury, two days ahead of the opening pre-Olympic tie against Iran.
Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, arguably the team's most accomplished player, is still recovering from a broken toe sustained during the SEA Games in Hanoi last December.
Then Pahang midfielder, Juzaili Samion, was forced to rest for almost six months after undergoing surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament in January.
The latest player to join the crocks' list is Terengganu defender Mazuki Yusof.
Mazuki who is one of the candidates to replace Zamani in central defence, sustained a knee injury in a League match.
With Iran likely to parade their best side, including 13 players who helped the Persian giants win gold in the Busan Asian Games, Mazuki's injury has struck a blow to Harris' defensive strategies.
Question is, are the second stringers good enough to beef up the defence against a side known for their attacking brilliance? Eman Mobali, Hoessein Kabei, Moharram Navidkia, Arash Borhani and Javad Kazemeyan formed a lethal combination that blew away Uzbekistan 9-2 on aggregate in the first round clash and all are expected to feature in coach Mohammad Mayeli Kohan's line-up at MPPJ Stadium on Wednesday.
Harris' task is to ensure the four-man defence, likely to comprise Yosri Derma Raju, Aziz Ismail, Ronny Harun and Irwan Fadzli Idrus, give little away at the back.
Since Mazuki is doubtful for the clash, former Chelsea and QPR defender Harris might opt for Sabah defender Ronny who acquitted himself well in the SEA Games.
Slightly smaller than Mazuki, Ronny, barely 19, however is a tough customer and is physically up to the challenge against the Iranian attacking prowess.
Although still prone to committing positional errors, Yosri is the best choice to man the right flank.
Aziz is an automatic choice in central defence only because Zamani is not available while Irwan has made the left-back slot his own since coming under Harris' charge in 1999.
The man chosen to man the posts is Syamsuri Mustaffa, the keeper whose freak goal against Vietnam in the SEA Games semifinal clash earned him CNN's Player of the Day.
One thing is certain. Syamsuri and his defensive colleagues will be kept busy by the team from the land of Ali Daei and Ali Karimi.