Six play­ers called up for Sea Games train­ing de­spite shirk­ing na­tional du­ties

New Straits Times - - Sport - RE­PORTS BY DEVIN­DER SINGH devin­

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).

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