Beto desperate for success in last under-age outing for Malaysia

Missing out on the recent KL SEA Games was a big disappointment for Ahmad Khairil Anuar and he intends to recover lost time in the AFC U23 in China.

It was heartbreak for Beto when Datuk Ong Kim Swee announced his squad in August for the 2017 KL SEA Games. His name wasn't in the final squad for the competition and all the work that he had put in before looked to have gone to waste. 

Having arrived at that squad fit and ready, an injury picked up during training meant that his condition had to be monitored until the final squad had to be revealed. His desperation to be part of the squad was evident in the fact that he pleaded with Ong to give him until the final moment to prove his fitness, but alas it wasn't to be for the 22-year-old.

He had to stand by and see his fellow team mates become recognisable names in Malaysian football as the home crowd came out in droves to support the Young Tigers. The squad has been reassembled again to prepare for the AFC Under-23 Championship in China in January 2018 and it's the second chance for Beto to finally be part of the team.

"SEA Games was a place to create a name where the players could show what they can do in front of the Malaysian crowd. I missed out on that, it feels wasted and I was very disappointed not to be part of it."

"Since 2016 I have never missed any call-up for the SEA Games project squad but finally I wasn't able to make it. But it gave a chance to my other team mates to do well and most of them have become household names now. I hope the AFC U23 can become a platform for me to build my own name," Beto told Goal.

The bitter disappointment from not being selected for the home regional tournament became the motivation factor for the midfielder. He was almost back to his full fitness but the SEA Games probably came one or two weeks to early for him.

He got back into the swing of things in the latter stages of the domestic 2017 season where he featured prominently for club side Perak, whether as a starting XI or replacement off the bench. In fact, his performances for The Bos Gaurus caught the eye of senior Malaysia national team head coach, Nelo Vingada and the left footer gained his first senior cap against DPR Korea.

Syafiq Ahmad, Matthew Davies, Nor Azam Azih, Adib Zainuddin, N. Thanabalan and Irfan Zakaria are among the fellow squad members currently training for the AFC U23 who like Beto - will be featuring in their final ever appearance in the under-age group. They will all not be elligible for the next one and Beto is bent on making this last one count.

"I managed to get a place back into the Perak team but the break means that my fitness level has gone down a bit. So these two weeks is for me to catch back up on that. Now I feel like I'm in a good condition to play a part in the AFC U23. It's personally my last under age tournament. So I'll take this chance to do my best. I want to create a good lasting memory for me at this level," added Beto.