The Malaysia U-22 squad received a surprise visitor on their second day of centralised training when team manager Datuk Yusoff Mahadi dropped in to observe the training. The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Deputy-President was also on hand to give a pep talk to the players after their training ended.
Speaking to the press, Yusoff who is likely to join the team on the latter part of the China tour, wants the players to make full use of the opportunity given or risk being replaced with others. The Melaka United Football Association Vice-President also went on to explain that Datuk Ong Kim Swee has options to make changes if required so.
"At this time, we've called 25 players for this training but only 22 will go to China. I hope this opportunity is used by the players to show their capability to achieve our target of going far in the SEA Games in our home ground even though before that, they have the AFC qualifiers in July."
"The friendly matches arranged in China. After they return from China, they will go for another round of training in Melaka which includes a match against Melaka United. Maybe there will be chances given to other players for that match because we have a list of 40 players to assess and test," said Yusoff.
Yusoff also expressed the target for the team ahead of the two crucial tournaments that the U-22 squad will compete in - the AFC U-23 qualifiers and the South-East Asian (SEA) Games.
"We hope we get a good position in the AFC but what is more important is to focus on the SEA Games. I consider that a big responsibility on us and we want to be there in action on the final day of the competition."
"We want to reach the final first then we can think about the gold medal. The teams we play in the AFC are also similar to the teams we will play in the SEA Games, hence that is also part of the preparations," added Yusoff.
Compratively, the suggestion from within the camp is that the regional SEA Games is being prioritised ahead of the continental AFC qualifiers. Yusoff went on to explained why that is so and put it down to a matter of circumstances.
"It's not we take it easy there [AFC qualifiers], we'll still try out best. It's just that since the SEA Games is held in Malaysia, we have to give that a priority because we don't our team to failed on our home ground."
"It's a matter of pride. We still consider the AFC qualifiers as a big tournament and coach Ong will get the support he needs," explained Yusoff.