BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
It has only been slightly over 1.5 years since the name Matthew Davies popped up in Malaysian football but over the mentioned period, the former Perth Glory player has gone from strength to strength.
From becoming the first choice right back at Pahang to playing in the 2015 SEA Games to being named captain of The Elephants, it has been quite the rollercoaster ride for Davies since his arrival. Yet, there's a chance to add one more feather to the cap.
Davies is on course to be named in the final squad for Malaysia's team to the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup group stage to be held in Yangon, Myanmar. With only two right backs called-up, it looks very likely that Davies and Rizal Ghazali's names will both be inked on the flight ticket.
Starting Monday, Datuk Ong Kim Swee has altered his training hours to start at 3pm instead of the usual 5pm slot. This is to ensure that the players get used to playing in that time slot as Harimau Malaysia's first two matches in Yangon, is scheduled to be played in the afternoon.
"It's hot! It's the first of three that we are doing and we are also training in the morning now. We were up very early. It's good that we get to acclimatise but at the same time, it's very difficult for us,"said Davies when spoken to before the start of the first afternoon session on Monday.
Davies is mindful that it will take two teams to compete in a match and Malaysia won't be the only ones that have to face the difficulties that comes with playing in the afteroon.
"It will be a challenge for us but at the same time, the other teams will have to play in these conditions also. It will be challenging for both teams and hopefully it won't affect the quality of the football too much."
Last year, Davies was also part of Kim Swee's squad to Singapore to compete in the fooball event of the 2015 SEA Games - so being with this coach is not something new for him. As well as the fact that he has been involved in squad when fit, Davies praises the improving atmosphere surrounding the squad especially after a recent exercise.
"It's good. I know most of the players by now. I've been with the squad a fair few times. The team is bonding quite well especially those three days in Port Dickson really helped us and joined us together."
The 21-year-old is clear what he wants to achieve but finds in his path a player who goes into the camp high on confidence. It is a direct competition between Davies and Rizal for the right back berth and the former is clear what he needs to do to catch the eye of the coach.
"To first of all be on the plane to Yangon. Secondly to hopefully be getting game time and starting games. I have a lot of self-believe and confidence in my own playing ability. Of course Rizal is in good form. It's good competition for both of us and we're both working hard in training. Whoever trains the best in the next weeks, I suppose will start there."
If taken on the basis of what both have shown on the international stage thus, it looks like Matthew Davies still holds a slight edge.