NATIONAL youth coach Ong Kim Swee will search for new talent when the 2013 M-League kicks off on Saturday to supplement the Under-23 squad he is preparing to defend the football gold medal at the Myanmar Sea Games next year.
Kim Swee said while he was happy with the 27 players presently training with Young Tigers A, young players who stand out in the local league could still be roped in.
"The 27 I have at the moment are good enough but I will keep my options open once the M-League starts.
"If one or two players stand out I will call them up," said Kim Swee yesterday in Kuching where Young Tigers A defeated Sarawak 4-2 in a friendly match at the State Stadium on Friday.
M-League teams have shown a reluctance to release players to the Young Tigers with Terengganu left-back Zubir Azmi and Kelantan's Nik Shahrul Azim Abd Halim opting not to join Kim Swee's squad.
However, Kim Swee plans on calling up the two defenders for the Jan 23-Feb 6 trip to Gold Coast, Australia, if they are not selected by national coach K. Rajagobal for the Asian Cup qualifier against Qatar in Doha on Feb 6.
"I can understand why clubs and state teams are reluctant to release players but I think they don't realise they have the option of replacing these players outside the transfer window.
"Anyway, if Zubir and Nik Shahrul are not called up to the national team, I plan to take them to Australia along with K. Reuben (Armed Forces)," added Kim Swee.
Kim Swee is happy with the progress of the new players in his team with ex-Perak Under-21 captain Nurridzuan Abu Hassan scoring the fourth goal against Sarawak.
Former Universiti Teknologi Mara player Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat also impressed Kim Swee in midfield where he combined well with Bukit Jalil schoolboy Adam Nor Azlin.
Boby Gonzales opened the scoring for Sarawak after four minutes to the delight of the 12,000 spectators but Young Tigers were level by half-time, thanks to Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria.
Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor put the visitors ahead 11 minutes after the break from the spot before late goals by Wan Zaharul and substitute Nurridzuan extended their lead to 4-1. An Ivan Babic penalty reduced the arrears.
Meanwhile, Friday threw up some surprising results in friendly matches with FAM League side Penang producing a stunning 1-0 win over Super League team Perak at the City Stadium.
Basher Napae scored the winner but it was the surprise appearance of former Penang star Merzagua Abderazak, now the team's coach, in the last 10 minutes which delighted the home supporters.
Second-tier Johor won a quadrangular at Larkin after a 2-1 upset of star-studded Darul Takzim in the final, having a day earlier defeated Pahang 3-0.
Perlis recovered from going two goals behind to hold Super League contenders Selangor 2-2 in Kangar, PKNS beat Armed Forces 3-1 in Kelana Jaya while Police overcame Sabah 3-2 at the Police Training Centre ground. By Devinder Singh