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Malaysia under-23 head coach Ong Kim Swee is hoping for more European trips for his team as previous sojourns start to bear fruit

Ong Kim Swee wants his Harimau Muda team to be exposed to more training and playing time in Europe.

Kim Swee’s boys have made three trips to Slovakia since 2010, for practice and friendlies against European sides.

The Malacca born coach believes these stints have proven to be successful in improving the team’s standard of football, as noticed with their SEA Games gold medal and progress to the third round of the 2012 Olympic qualifiers (Asian zone). The latter achievement was more significant as it was the furthest Malaysia has gone in the qualifiers since football at the Olympics was made an exclusive Under-23 event.

“The matches in Slovakia were an important part of our training programme as they allowed the players to experience high-level competitive matches,” the former international told The Star.

“We are planning another stint in Slovakia and I think we must make sure that this programme is continued.”

“The matches there are of higher quality compared to that in the S-League.”

“We can send our younger players – the national Under-20 or Under-19 team – to play in the S-league and the Under-22 team to Europe.”

Kim Swee also pointed to the fact that more Malaysian players are getting noticed by foreign clubs as a result of the team’s spell in Europe.

Since the end of the Olympic qualifiers, three Harimau Muda players have been offered trials with overseas clubs.

Midfielder Nazmi Faiz Mansor has already signed a contract with Portuguese club SC Beira-Mar after excelling in his trials while Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Zakaria are waiting for a response from FC Ryukyu, having attended try-outs with the Japanese club last month.

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