The Malaysia team for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup has an average age of 25.17 which goes to show how relatively young and inexperienced the squad is at senior level international football, albeit a number that is swelled by the fact that there are four players over the age of 30 in the squad.
Farizal Marlias, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak and Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak are the senior players in the squad and Tan Cheng Hoe has gone for a blend of players with a younger age profile, with an eye of building the team in the longer term.
At three years older than the youngest one in the squad (Akhyar Rashid), the 22-year-old Syazwan Andik is one of those younger brigade trusted to push Malaysia to a possible second triumph in the AFF Championship.
The left back who plays his club football with Kuala Lumpur in the Super League has been making headways since starring for the Malaysia U23s at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship and now seemed to have secured the starting role for himself under the tutelage of Cheng Hoe.
"It's a big leap coming from an under age group like Under-23 to the senior side because the quality of players and opponents are significantly higher. So there's still a lot for me to learn."
"This is my first time representing the national team in a major tournament, so if I tell you that I'm not consistently thinking about the match against Cambodia, I will be lying to you. Nerves are always there but when I step onto the pitch then I'm hopeful that I can help the team," he told Goal.
A normal match requires a lot from the likes of Syazwan who also has to pitch in his contribution in the attacking side of Malaysia's game, on top of his defensive work. Expected to line up behind Safawi Rasid whom he also worked together with at the U23 level, it will be an understanding between the two players that Cheng Hoe seek to bring out.
Judging from the 3-0 win over Maldives in the last preparation match prior to the start of the AFF tournament, Syazwan is also the nominated corner kick taker from the right hand side. His delivery qualities on an in-swinging set piece routine will create opportunities for Malaysia but it will be a long jog from his position to the corner flag a the far end.
Malaysia will be looking to kickstart their 2018 campaign with a positive result against Cambodia at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday and Syazwan will be among those hoping for a memorable competitive debut for the senior side.
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