Kim Swee tells players to ‘relive’ the spirit
COACH Ong Kim Swee has urged his national Under-22 squad to develop a winning spirit to their football campaign by “reliving” the memories of Malaysia’s triumph in the 1989 Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Kim Swee said his 20-member team have depth and that he can afford to make five or six changes in each match during the biennial games.
In the 1989 edition, the Lim Teong Kiminspired national team defeated Singapore 3-1 at Merdeka Stadium in the final.
“A lot have been said about the 1989 team, but we have our own way to achieve the target. We are motivated to repeat the effort in 1989 in our own backyard,” said Kim Swee in Shah Alam yesterday.
“Many teams are rating Malaysia highly... it is just a psychological thing others are trying to play to disorientate our team. We are not buying it and I have reminded my boys to just focus on the competition.
Kim Swee dropped eight players but third-choice goalkeeper Amierul Hakimi Awang will remain with his squad as teams are allowed to replace their injured goalkeepers during the tournament.
The others dropped were Raphi Azizan Mariappen, Danial Ashraf Abdullah, Sea Eugene Selvaraj, Dominic Tan, Tommy Bada, Ahmad Azriddin Rosli and Ahmad Khairil Anuar Zambri.
“It was tough to trim down the training squad as those dropped were also excellent in training. It was the toughest decision I’ve made as a coach.
“I also considered experience of the players as part of the selection criteria. I also looked at alternatives in each position in case of injuries.
“We will rotate the players according to the strengths of our opponents,” said Kim Swee, who is coaching Malaysia for the fourth straight time in the Sea Games.
Strikers N. Thanabalan and S. Kumaahran were down with injuries in training, but Kim Swee said both are ready for the competition.
“Thanabalan had a knee scan yesterday, and based on the report, he shouldn’t take him long to return to action. I expect him to play for at least 30 minutes against Singapore in our second game on Wednesday.
“Kumaahran had a hamstring problem but he managed to do full training yesterday,” he said.
Kim Swee said his players have responded positively on all aspects, but there are minor things that need to be addressed before they open their Group A campaign against Brunei tomorrow.
“The AFC Under-23 Qualifiers in Bangkok is history. I do not want the boys to be overconfident after having qualified for the AFC Under-22 Championship.
“We cannot take any team lightly. Brunei will be tricky as I believe they will be realistic when they play us. We want three points from this match.
“I am not thinking about the margin of victory in the Sea Games...three points in each game is more important as the aim is to first reach the semi-finals,” said Kim Swee, adding that he hopes fans will pack the stadium to give added motivation to his players. THE SQUAD — Goalkeeper: Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim, Haziq Nadzli;
Defenders: Ariff Farhan Isa, Adib Zainuddin, Matthew Davies, Syazwan Zaipol Bahari, Irfan Zakaria, Adam Nor Azlin;
Midfielders: Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Syamer Kutty Abba, Syahmi Safari, Nor Azam Abdul Azih, Danial Amier Norhisham, Syazwan Andik Ishak;
Forwards: Syafiq Ahmad, S. Kumaahran, N. Thanabalan, Jafri Fridaus Chew, Akhyar Rashid, Safawi Rashid.
Malaysia’s (from left) Fauzan Mohd Fauzi, Ahmad Khairil Anuar, Syazwan Zaipol Bahari, Danial Ashraf Abdullah and Danial Amier during training at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.