BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia boss Tan Cheng Hoe has cut midfielder Halim Saari and defender Rodney Celvin from the squad that will face Timor Leste in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifier first round play-off tie.
Revealing his decision in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Cheng Hoe explained his decision:
"The two players who will not be included are Halim Saari and Rodney Celvin. Halim has a groin injury and is unlikely to recover in time for the second leg match, while Rodney has a good future on the national team. I hope he (Rodney) can use the experience he has picked up here playing in the Super League."
When asked by Goal on his decision to opt for Dominic Tan, another young defender, over Rodney, the former Kedah coach remarked that the former has more experience at the international level.
"Dominic has played well for the [Malaysia] U-23 team and in the recent [AFF Championship] U-22 qualifying tournament.
"He also has been playing a huge role on the U-23 team, and deserves a place on the senior team. He's composed and he has a great future with us," he explained.
Asked about their play-off opponents, Cheng Hoe remarked that his charges need to be wary of their speed, as the opponents are composed of young players.
"They have called up the same set of players as those who featured in last year's AFF Championship; it's a very good young squad who has been playing together in a few competitions.
"We've identified a few [dangerous] players especially their strike force. They're nippy and they work very hard, they have a good team spirit and fighting spirit. We need to be careful of these characteristics," he added.
Both play-off encounters will be held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. Timor Leste are the home team of the June 11 match, but it will still be played in Kuala Lumpur.
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