Hodak explains why Oman friendlies arranged for Malaysia U-19

Malaysia U-19 head coach Bojan Hodak only has 21 players out of the 26 called up on the first day of their camp, but he is not troubled by the absence

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Malaysia U-19's centralised training camp began on Saturday, minus several familiar faces.

The preliminary list, released earlier this week, was missing Kedah starlet Akhyar Rashid and playmaker Nik Akif Syahiran Nik Mat, while striker Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak and centre back Shivan Pillay Asokan were only listed as back-up players. Assistant head coach Hairuddin Omar told Goal that the four will join the camp at a later date as they are playing regularly for their clubs.

When met on Saturday, head coach Bojan Hodak confirmed their absence on top of several other players, who have club commitment.

"Today we have 21 players present out of the 26 called up, while the remaining five will join us after August 26; the Youth Cup final match. Two from Kelantan (Syaiful Alias and Hakimi Abdullah) will join us on the 27th, as the club have a match on the 26th. Hadi will join us on the 28th or 29th as he just got back from the Asian Games.

"Akhyar and Akif are playing regularly in the Malaysia Cup, I can see their progress and they have been playing in tough matches, so I don't have a problem with that. There are a couple others who have been training with the first team at their clubs, I don't have to check up on them as they have regular matches and undergo tough training everyday. I'm fine with them .

"For me, now is the time for me to check on players who have not been playing regularly or those who have been playing in the lower leagues," explained the Croatian before conducting training on Saturday.

When asked by Goal, he also provided the reasoning behind taking the squad to Oman for a series of friendlies, from September 1 to 10.

"My boys will play in four friendlies; first on August 29 against an Indian Super League club here, then the remaining three matches in Oman, but they are still in the middle of being confirmed so I can't reveal who they are yet.

"There are two reasons why Oman have been picked as the destination; the first is that the Malaysia Cup and Challenge Cup are going on at the moment, so we cannot play against local clubs.

"Secondly, the team will play Saudi Arabia U-19 in their first group game, and Omani players are quite similar to the Saudis; strong, fast, but a little undisciplined. Their styles of play are very similar," said the former Kelantan and JDT player.


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