Malaysia U23 face injury woes ahead of final

Young Tigers’ head coach revealed that Wan Zack Haikal and Junior Eldstal are doubtful ahead of the Merdeka Tournament final against Myanmar U23 on Saturday

Ahead of the Merdeka Tournament final on Saturday, Malaysia Under-23 head coach, Ong Kim Swee, revealed that he might not be able to field his best XI against their Burmese counterparts.

He was present at the pre-final press conference with skipper Irfan Fazail when he told reporters the bad news.

Ong said: “Wan Zack [Haikal] and Junior [Eldstal] are doubtful for the game [on Saturday].

“Wan Zack is suffering from an ankle injury.

“[As of now], I haven’t decided on the first XI yet [but] it will be based on this evening's training session.”

Despite beating Myanmar in the second-round match 2-1, Ong is still aware that the Burmese are no pushovers.

“Tomorrow will be a big test for my boys and I hope they'll give their best to win,” he added.

He also identified Myanmar captain Kyaw Zayar Win, Kyi Lin, Kyaw Ko Ko and Thein Than Win as key players to watch out for in the final.

Seeing that it is Malaysia Day September 16, two days after the final, Ong feels that a victory for the Young Tigers is paramount.

“It is important for us to win for the whole nation in conjunction with Malaysia Day this Monday and it will [boost] the players' confidence for the SEA Games,” he enthused.

Also speaking to reporters at the press conference was the Malaysian captain Irfan who shares a similar mindset as his coach and is aware of the threats in the Burmese squad.

He said: “Myanmar are a fast-paced side and we must be careful at all times.

“It is my objective to win this tournament.”

While stating that he will work with whomever his coach picks as his midfield partner, Irfan hopes for a full house in the final.

“We hope that the fans will fill out the stadium as they will give us the motivation to win against Myanmar,” he added.

Malaysia U23 go head to head with Myanmar U23 at the Darul Makmur Stadium on Saturday with the kickoff set for 8.45pm.

Singapore U23 and the Thailand Selection will face off in the third/fourth playoff at the same venue with an earlier kickoff time of 5.30pm.