BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
The future is bright. That is what coach Yong Wai Hwang told the press after the final training session on Saturday before the national depart flies off to Indonesia on Sunday. The goalkeeping coach was happy with what his charges have shown thus far and will be looking for more out of them.
Yong believes that the performance of the three goalkeepers that were called up represents the kind of conundrum that all coaches hope for - the ability to choose from three good options.
“Actually, I have seen an increase of commitment from the three goalkeepers. Khairul Fahmi as usual does his best in training and I’m happy with his performance. As well that with Khairul Azhan who displays the same intensity in training that will give me a good problem to have when deciding who will play against Indonesia. Overall I’ve seen that these three keepers have good characteristics like bravery, positive, single-minded and have winning mentality.”
That said, Yong reserved special praise for Perak’s Hafizul Hakim. The 23-year-old custodian is in splendid form having helped Perak recovered from earlier troubles to be in contention to remain in the Super League yet again.
“Even though Hafizul [Hakim] is young and it’s his first time with the national team, I’m happy with what he has shown in training. It’s not only me, the other coaches are also very pleased with him. This shows that we still have keepers in the local league that could play at a higher level. “
Yong also divulge the criteria which he stands by when selecting and deciding on the goalkeeper. Composure is the number aspect for coach Yong.
“There are a few aspects I look at. First is of course the commitment in training. Once the goalkeeper is focus and relaxed in training and enjoying it, I know he’s prepared to play. I prefer a goalkeeper who is more relaxed compared to one who is very tense when it comes to match preparation.”
The goalkeeping department isn’t a stand-alone one and it has to be paired with the rest of the team. That is also something which Yong worked on during the course of the centralised training.
“Of course there are some details like technical aspects. From tactical aspects, our philosophy of play is that we want to emphasis a lot of build-up attacks from the back. So the last few training sessions, I’ve focussed a lot on the keepers passing out from the back and how to be able to initiate attacks from the back.”
When pressed if he has already decided on who will play against Indonesia, Yong remained tight-lipped about his but hints at a possible chance for young Hafizul.
“For Indonesia match, we have the privilege of playing them in a friendly. So we have the opportunity to test. If I don’t test, then I won’t be giving them a chance to prove themselves at a higher level.”