SELECTION: Qatar friendly to help Kim Swee decide
WITH key players Fadhli Shas and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor suspended for the opening AFC Under-22 Championship qualifier against South Korea next week, national youth coach Ong Kim Swee will be assessing their replacements when Malaysia play Qatar in a friendly at the Shah Alam Stadium today.
Neither Fadhli nor Wan Zack would be playing against Qatar anyway as they are recovering from injuries but both players are assured of being included in the final 23-man squad for the Group G qualifiers in Yangon on June 23-July 3.
Kim Swee will drop four players from the 27-man training squad and will be looking for understanding of tactics and discipline against Qatar in deciding which players to leave out.
"After our trip to Europe and China, we have identified the weaknesses we needed to work on. I do not want to see the same mistakes being repeated as this is our final match before the qualifiers.
"I want to see understanding of tactics and our style of play before I decide who is going," said Kim Swee yesterday.
Malaysia's opening match against South Korea on Saturday will set the tone for the rest of the tournament ahead of games against Philippines (June 25), Taiwan (June 28), Vietnam (June 30) and Myanmar (July 3).
The top two teams from each of the seven groups qualify for the inaugural Under-22 finals on Jan 11-26, 2014 along with the best third-placed team. The host is yet to be determined.
Winger Wan Zack and centre-back Fadhli are both serving suspensions after being sent off in Malaysia's Olympic qualifying matches with the former set to miss the first three games in Yangon while Fadhli is absent from the opening game only.
This opens up places in the starting line up for the likes of Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham and Wan Ahmad Amirzafran Wan Nadris on the flanks.
Shahrul Saad should be lining up alongside Amer Saidin, who is recovering from a back injury, in central defence as Fadhli's replacement.
Attention will also be focused on striker Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, who made a startling impact on his senior international debut when he scored a hat-trick in Malaysia's 6-0 win over Sri Lanka on Apr 28 in a 20-minute cameo.
Kim Swee's side lost 1-0 to China in their last international friendly in Wuhan on June 10, having returned from their tour of Hungary and Slovakia with a record of one win, two draws and one defeat against club and selection teams.