THE DOOR STAYS OPEN
Six players called up for Sea Games training despite shirking national duties
THE six players who ignored a call-up for last month’s AFC Under-23 Championship qualifying tournament have been given a second chance by national youth coach Ong Kim Swee.
In seeking to form his strongest side for the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games which kicks off on Aug 14, Kim Swee is prepared to overlook the sextet’s failure to report for national Under-22 duty in July.
Pahang’s Matthew Davies and Nor Azam Azih, Darul Ta’zim’s Haziq Nadzli and Safawi Rashid and Penang’s S. Kumaahran and Syamer Kutty Abba were all included in a 27-man training list for the Sea Games.
Also included was Darul Ta’zim defender Dominic Tan, another player who has played hide-andseek with the national youth team previously.
“This is the best group I have been able to bring together and for me these 27 players are even better than the 22 players we took to Bangkok last month,” said Kim Swee, referring to the success in qualifying for the AFC Under-23 finals in China next year.
“When central is ed training begins on Sunday, I will have a week to decide the final squad of 20 players to be registered on Aug 20.
“I will use the time remaining to ensure each position is covered by two players because we know that the Sea Games schedule is hectic. All 20 players selected must be ready and fit to play whenever called upon.”
Sarawak winger Tommy Mawat Bada and Felda United’s Ahmad Azriddin Rosli also returned to the squad after recovering from injuries but Perak midfielder Ahmad Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zamri missed out due to fitness concerns.
Three others who travelled to Bangkok but did not make the Sea Games cut are Kuala Lumpur goalkeeper Ahmad Solehin Mamat and Negri Sembilan duo Fauzan Fauzi and L. Kalaiharasan.
Speaking of the players who failed to report last month, Kim Swee said: “What is important is that the players returning to the squad must fight for their places and be ready to help each other.”
From the 27 players, six are survivors from the 2015 Sea Games squad that exited in the group stage. They are Davies,
Kumaahran, Adam Nor Azlin, Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Ariff Farhan Isa and Syafiq Ahmad.
Malaysia face Brunei in the opening Group A match on Aug 14 before taking on Singapore two days later ahead of games against Myanmar (Aug 21) and Laos (Aug 23).
SQUAD — Goalkeepers: Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim (Ked), Haziq Nadzli (JDT), Amierul Hakimi Awang (Ter);
Defenders: Ariff Farhan Isa (Ked), Dominic Tan (JDT), Adib Zainuddin (Felcra), Adam Nor Azlin (Sel), Irfan Zakaria (KL), Raphi Azizan Mariappen (PJ Rangers), Syazwan Zaipol Bahari (Perak SEDC), Matthew Davies (Pah);
Midfielders: Safawi Rashid (JDT), Amirul Hisham Awang Kechik (Ked), Syamer Kutty Abba (Pen), Syahmi Safari (Sel), Nor Azam Azih (Pah), Danial Amier Norhisham, Ahmad Azriddin Rosli (both Felda), Syazwan Andik Ishak (JDT II), Tommy Mawat Bada (Sar);
Forwards: Akhyar Rashid, Syafiq Ahmad (both Ked), Jafri Firdaus Chew, S. Kumaahran (both Pen), N. Thanabalan (Felcra), Danial Ashraf Abdullah (Kel), Sean Eugene Selvaraj (NS).