BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
With Datuk Ong Kim Swee set to takeover the Under-22 squad, Frank Bernhardt's last assignment with the team ended on a sour note after finishing the 2017 Dubai Cup with a defeat to Jordan. The 3-0 defeat leaves the U22 team in fifth spot in the six-teams mini tournament.
Having started the tournament with a solid 1-1 draw against eventual runners-up China in the opening match, Malaysia's campaign went downhill from there with defeats to Thailand and Jordan. Even a 3-1 win over Singapore in the third match couldn't disguise a poor tournament for the U22.
Thailand proved themselves to be the top team in this tournament as they finished top of the pile after the completion of all the fixtures. With such a big gap between the two countries, Ong will have a tough task to prepare his team ahead of the 2017 South-East Asian (SEA) Games in August where the same Thailand side will undoubtedly go into the games as clear favourites.
Ong will have options to beef up the squad ahead of that tournament as well as the Asian U23 qualifiers as he could call up the likes of Pahang's Matthew Davies and Johor Darul Ta'zim's Afiq Fazail. Both players are mainstays in their respective Super League sides' starting line-up and should add experience and leadership to the team.
Players showing their ingenuity off the field. Credit: FAM