Youngest U23 member intent to make a great impression on OKS

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Despite the odds stacked against him, young centre back Shivan Pillay is ready to work his way into Ong's thinking for AFC U23 Championship in China.

2017 will be a year to remember for young Shivan who not only shone in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers but has now also made the initial squad for the Malaysia Under-23 team that are preparing for the AFC U-23 Championship in China next month.

Both him and Hadi Fayyah are only 17 years old, trying to make it in a team that consist of players generally around 4 - 5 years older than them and being the younger of the two, it can be a daunting experience for Shivan.

Born in Kelantan but moved to Selangor when still a toddler, Shivan was initially in the sports school in Gambang, Pahang at the age of 13. Difficulties with the standard of studies at the school meant that Shivan had to leave and return to Selangor.

It was there that his talents got spotted and he was rewarded with a place in the youth Selangor team. In one of the friendly matches played against PKNS, Shivan caught the opposing team's attention and was subsequently offered a place in the club's youth team.

"Yes, I was surprised to be called (for Malaysia U19). I was playing for Malaysia U14 last time. When I was U16, I wanted to play but they didn't allow because I was no longer with the sports school. But I kept working hard because I wanted to play for the national team. This year I got the call-up and it's all good."

"It was kind of different. It was cold in Korea but we managed to adapt to the situation. We had good chemistry between each other. We managed to qualify for the AFC finals and that's a big thing for us. The Koreans were next level and way better, they had three players playing in Europe. 

"We only had one month preparations. Whereas other teams had been training overseas for a few months, so maybe they were more expected to go through. We didn't go with any expectations but we managed to qualify for the finals," Shivan told Goal.

Shivan Pillay Asokan, Malaysia U23, PKNS FC

In the AFC qualifiers played in South Korea, Shivan started three out of the four matches. A right footed centre back who usually plays as the left centre back, Shivan made a big impression in those 270 minutes to alert Ong Kim Swee to call him up in the U23 provisional squad.

"Kind of shocked (getting the U23 call-up) because I'm going up against more experienced players but I always come with a a target. I want to fight for my place. In my positions there are Adib (Zainuddin) and Adam (Nor Azli) who have played in many international matches, so there's plenty to learn from them. I will have to adapt and it's a good challenge for myself," added Shivan.

Shivan's contract with PKNS is ending soon but the club has already indicated to him that they want him to stay and he will be promoted to the President's Cup team for the 2018 season. However only one thing is on the mind of Shivan, and that is to impress Ong even more and make the final cut for the flight to China.

Ong is expected to cut his squad of 30 down to 26 before they depart to South Korea for more training and another three more players will be sent home from Korea before the Malaysia U19 fly over to China to start their tournament proper.

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