No hard feelings for pragmatic Kim Swee, as he calls up qualifier absentees

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Malaysia U23 head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee wants to see commitment from the players he has called up to his 27-man preliminary SEA Games squad.


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


The Malaysian FA (FAM) has released the preliminary 27-man Malaysia U23 call-up list for the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, and eyebrows were raised by the inclusion of five players who had earlier been absent.

The quintet; Syamer Kutty Abba, Kumaahran Sathasivam (Pulau Pinang), Haziq Nadzli, Safawi Rasid (JDT), and Tommy Mawat Bada (Sarawak) had not been released by their clubs to join the Young Tigers' 2018 AFC U23 Championship qualification campaign in July, as the M-League was still taking place.

Thankfully for head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, his team defied the absence, inadequate preparation time and pessimistic expectations to qualify for the finals as Group H leaders, besting rivals Indonesia and regional powerhouse Thailand position-wise.

Despite many critics and fans' condemnation of the snub, Ong told Goal he sees no reason to bear any grudges, knowing the quality that they possess, and that the men were not in the position to decide for themselves.

"What is most important is that they are all quality players and will provide us with more depth than what we had in Bangkok (the qualification)," he remarked.

However, he does not want them to think that his olive branch means that their places in the final, 20-man list are guaranteed.

"There's no guaranteed spot for them in the squad, even for those who have been involved in the qualifiers.

"At the end of the day, commitment is my first priority. Even if they're superstars and play regularly for their clubs, have played in the SEA Games and the national team before, if they don't show commitment like the team showed in the AFC (qualifiers), then there's simply no place for them," warned the former Malaysia senior team boss.

But this time around, Ong is confident that the clubs will have no problems releasing the players he has called up, when inquired by us.

"I don't really talk to them (the clubs), but FMLLP (M-League organiser Football Malaysia LLP) has postponed the mid-week August 9 Malaysia Cup round.

"I don't foresee a big issue about the players' release," explained Ong.

He was quoted by the FAM website as describing the men called up as the strongest side available to him, who will do better than the way they performed in the qualifiers.

"This is the best side that I can assemble save for Beto (Perak's Ahmad Khairil Anuar Zamri), who will not recover from his injury on time for the 2017 SEA Games.

"For me, this 27-player list is a better side than the 22-man squad that I took to Bangkok for the 2018 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers last month," revealed Ong.

He also feels that the new inclusions will not face any problems combining with the players retained from the qualifiers.

"For this training camp, I can call up Matthew Davies and Nor Azam Abdul Azih, as well as Dominic Tan and Ahmad Azriddin Rosli. Matthew and Nor Azam have been with me when I led the 2015 SEA Games squad in Singapore, although Nor Azam was dropped from the final squad.

"So for me, there should be no problem for these players to work well with those who have been retained, including Dominic who have been with the previous U-22 squad under Frank Bernhardt. Most importantly, the new players must be ready to win a place, while at the same time prepare to work together among themselves," said the 46-year old trainer.

The full preliminary 27-man list are as follows:

NO

NAME

AGE

POSITION

CLUB

1.

Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik

22

Midfielder

Kedah

2.

Akhyar Rashid

18

Forward

Kedah

3.

Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim

21

Goalkeeper

Kedah

4.

Syafiq Ahmad

22

Forward

Kedah

5.

Ariff Farhan Md Isa

21

Winger

Kedah

6.

Jafri Firdaus Chew

20

Forward

Pulau Pinang

7.

Syamer Kutty Abba

20

Midfielder

Pulau Pinang

8.

S Kumaahran

21

Forward

Pulau Pinang

9.

Haziq Nadzli

19

Goalkeeper

Johor Darul Ta’zim

10.

Safawi Rasid

20

Forward

Johor Darul Ta’zim

11.

Dominic Tan

20

Defender

Johor Darul Ta’zim

12.

Adib Zainudin

22

Defender

Felcra FC

13.

N Thanabalan

22

Forward

Felcra FC

14.

Adam Nor Azlin

21

Defender

Selangor

15.

Syahmi Safari

19

Winger

Selangor

16.

Matthew Davies

22

Winger

Pahang

17.

Nor Azam Abdul Azih

22

Midfielder

Pahang

18.

Danial Amier Norhisham

20

Midfielder

Felda United

19.

Ahmad Azriddin Rosli

22

Midfielder

Felda United

20.

Irfan Zakaria

22

Defender

Kuala Lumpur

21.

Raphi Azizan Mariappen

21

Defender

PJ Rangers FC

22.

Syazwan Zaipol Bahari

22

Defender

PKNP FC

23.

Danial Ashraf Abdullah

20

Midfielder

Kelantan

24.

Sean Eugene Selvaraj

21

Forward

Negeri Sembilan

25.

Syazwan Andik Ishak

21

Winger

Johor Darul Ta’zim II

26.

Amierul Hakimi Awang

22

Goalkeeper

Terengganu

27.

Tommy Mawat Bada

21

Winger

Sarawak

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