De­fender urges team­mates to re­pay Kim Swee for his faith in them

New Straits Times - - Sport - AJITPAL SINGH ajit­pals­

WITH the un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of na­tional coach Ong Kim Swee, de­fender Khair Jones has urged his team­mates to play like never be­fore to over­come the Philip­pines in a friendly tomorrow in Manila.

Malaysia have not won an open­ing sea­son in­ter­na­tional match since the 2-0 win over Hong Kong in 2011.

“Kim Swee handed me my first cap last year and I will al­ways be grate­ful to him.

“As a player, life goes on as our job is only to give the best for the coun­try.

“Let’s beat the Philip­pines for a good start to the sea­son,” said Khair be­fore he and the other na­tional play­ers left for Manila yes­ter­day.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imag­ine that one day I would be play­ing for Malaysia. I grew up in New Zealand and played semipro­fes­sional foot­ball for Hawke's Bay United FC be­fore I moved to Malacca last Fe­bru­ary.

“Kim Swee also handed many oth­ers like me their first caps and for this, I will do my best on Wed­nes­day, if given the op­por­tu­nity.”

Al­though Kim Swee has a con­tract un­til the end of the year, his fu­ture is un­cer­tain fol­low­ing state­ments by var­i­ous par­ties that he would be re­placed with for­mer Darul Ta’zim trainer Mario Gomez af­ter the FA of Malaysia (FAM) elec­tion on Satur­day.

Khair, 28, made his in­ter­na­tional de­but as a sec­ond half sub­sti­tute in the 0-0 draw with Myan­mar last May be­fore mark­ing his first start with a goal in the 3-0 thrash­ing of Ti­mor Leste the fol­low­ing month.

He earned his third cap in the 2-0 vic­tory over Pa­pua New Guinea, also in June.

“It is good to be back with the na­tional team fol­low­ing the fail­ure to make the AFF Cup squad last year. Ob­vi­ously, I want to prove my­self again that I can play at this level.

“I have been push­ing my­self in train­ing to im­press the coaches.

“There are so many qual­ity play­ers in the team and if I get a break against the Philip­pines, I will not waste the op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

Khair, who is of MalaysianWelsh parent­age, is one the few util­ity play­ers in the team who can play in the cen­tre-back, left­back and left-wing po­si­tions.

“I am a reg­u­lar with Malacca this sea­son but I do not have a reg­u­lar po­si­tion in the team.

“I played two matches as a cen­tre-back, one game as a left-wing and the rest as a left-back.

“Frankly, I am bet­ter suited for the left-back po­si­tion but I am fine with any­thing,” said Khair.

Asked whether he still has com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues with his team­mates, both for club and na­tional team, Khair ad­mit­ted it was a prob­lem in the past as he knew only a few words of Ba­hasa Me­layu.

“My ‘ba­hasa’ has im­proved a lot and I have no com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems. How­ever, I still pre­fer to speak in English out­side foot­ball,” Khair added.

Khair Jones (left) can play in the cen­tre-back, left-back and left-wing po­si­tions.

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