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TWO youngsters from Sabah and Sarawak are set to make their international debut as national youth coach Ong Kim Swee rang the changes for Malaysia's final Olympic qualifier against Syria in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday.
With Malaysia's qualifying chances long gone, Kim Swee has taken the opportunity to blood new players in the last two games against Bahrain and Japan and will continue that tact against the Syrians, who need to win to pip Japan to the automatic slot to London from Group C.
Kim Swee said he intends to use several young players against Syria including Sabah forward Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, Sarawak winger Ashri Chu Chu and Young Tigers A goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi Roslan as preparation for the AFC Under-22 Championship qualifiers in June.
"We have a few players out injured and one suspended so it will give me the chance to test several others. I may field Izham though I still want to take Khairul Fahmi (Che Mat) with us.
"They still need time to form an understanding with the regular players in the team but I've seen positive signs in the new players and this augurs well for the AFC Under-22 qualifiers," said Kim Swee after watching his Olympic side beat Armed Forces 4-2 in a friendly match at Wisma FAM on Saturday.
Injuries have ruled out midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and striker A. Thamil Arasu while winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor is suspended. Other mainstays of the Olympic team including Muslim Ahmad and K. Gurusamy have been left out as they are not eligible for the AFC Under-22 tournament.
Instead, Rozaimi earned his call up after impressing by scoring twice for Sabah in the Super League while Ashri, 21, bagged nine goals in Sarawak's promotion campaign last year and has scored once in the Super League this year.
Malaysia have lost all five of their third round matches in Group C and suffered a 2-0 defeat to Syria in Bukit Jalil on Nov 23, just two days after winning Sea Games gold in Jakarta.
In Friday's friendly, D. Saarvindran scored twice in the second half after Fandi Othman's penalty and a fine strike by Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham gave the Olympic team a 2-1 lead.
Aidil Zaquan Radzak, with a deflected free-kick, and A. Varathan were on target for Premier League leaders Forces. By Devinder Singh