BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
On the first day of Malaysia U-22's centralised camp on Sunday, head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee was missing five of the 26 players he had called up for the AFF U-22 Championship training camp.
Speaking to the gathered press in Bukit Jalil, Kim Swee remarked that he had been notified that the five will not be released by their respective clubs.
"I have received letters from the clubs, informing me that their players will not be released. We now have 21 players from the 26 that I've called up earlier.
"Sure, 21 players is sufficient [for the AFF U-22 squad], but the question is; are we going there to simply make up the numbers, or to do more? We'll only know our strengths and weaknesses in the competition," said the SEA Games gold medal-winning trainer.
But Kim Swee's most pressing concern is his midfield department, and he plans to call up replacements before they depart for Cambodia for the tournament, on February 15.
"Danial, Zahril and Fadzrul are midfielders, which means I'm now left with only Nik Akif [Nik Mat] and Danial Haqim [Draman].
"I have to start thinking of finding their replacements, especially the midfielders, as well as the other positions. Perhaps I'll call three more players tomorrow, in order to ensure we have depth in every position," said the former Malaysia boss.
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Walaupun ada kelab-kelab Malaysia yang enggan melepaskan pemain mereka menyertai kem Malaysia B-22, kelab @hadifayyadhh di Jepun, Fagiano Okayama berbangga melepaskannya bagi tugasan pasukan kebangsaan. Five of Hadi Fayyadh's Malaysia U-22 teammates have not been released by their Malaysian clubs, but his Japanese club @fagianookayama are proud to let him leave for national team duty.