Invitational tournament cancellation in Indonesia not a setback for Malaysian U-23 squad

THE cancellation of an invitational tournament in Indonesia should not be viewed as a setback to the Malaysian football team preparing for the Under-23 Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar, from April 15-May 3.

Former national Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee feels that should plan A fail, there are 25 more alphabets to look at.

He urged the coaching staff to be creative and look at their own backyard.

"They still have time to prepare and will need to come up with several plans.

"There are a couple of teams who have started training, like Selangor, Terengganu and Johor Darul Ta'zim. In the national Under-23 side, many players are from Selangor.

"If you can't go abroad, then an alternative is to play sparring matches against Selangor or Terengganu," said Kim Swee.

The former FAM technical director said he doesn't think that the Under-23 team, coached by Spaniard Juan Torres Garrido, are being "overlooked" by FAM, as claimed by some fans.

But he believes that the plans weren't "communicated through" enough by both parties.

"I don't think they are neglecting the national Under-23, but the coaching staff need to inform others what their plans are.

"If the budget does not allow you to execute plans A and B, then go on to the next one."

Kim Swee added that FAM needs to be fair to Garrido as qualifying for the Olympics via Doha is not easy.

"They have to be fair to coaches and give them the things that they need. The target is to qualify for the Olympics, they need to have full support.

"Look at how the other teams are preparing. During the recent Asian Cup, Jordan was a very good example of gaining through quality friendlies and they ultimately reached the final."

Kim Swee said the national Under-23 team should play friendly matches to identify their weaknesses and improve on them rather than be concerned with results.

"We don't need to win in friendlies, and that was something Jordan did right," said Kim Swee.

Malaysia, drawn in Group D with Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Kuwait in the Under-23 Asian Cup, which also acts as a qualifier for the Paris Olympics, will need to finish in the top two to progress to the quarter-finals.

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