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Malaysia U19

AFC U-19 Championship: Hodak intent on keeping the spies in the dark

10:26 GMT+3 17/10/2018
Pulau Pinang CEO Bojan Hodak
Malaysia U-19's Bojan Hodak; head coach, manager, former footballer - and now counter-espionage specialist.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Malaysia U-19 departed for Jakarta, Indonesia on Wednesday afternoon, three days before they are scheduled to kick off their 2018 AFC U-19 Championship campaign.

Drawn in Group D, they will play Saudi Arabia U-19 on October 20, Tajikistan U-19 on October 23, and China on October 26. A semi-final finish will guarantee them a place in the U-20 World Cup in 2019.

Responding to a question by Goal when speaking to the press at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, head coach Bojan Hodak revealed his main concern upon arrival; making sure that their preparations are not being snooped on by their opponents.

"We will not show too much (in training) after arrival, because everyone will try to spy on each other. We can't practice our set pieces, so maybe we'll do light training and positioning moves now and then, just to keep them fresh in the boys' minds.

"They've been playing together for more than a year, so they already know what to expect. I don't think this will be a problem," revealed the Croatian trainer.

He also commented on two of his squad members; Akhyar Rashid and Nik Akif Nik Mat, who had only joined the squad the night before, having spent the previous week playing in two friendly matches for the senior national team.

Against Sri Lanka last Friday and Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday, both players came on as second half substitutions.

"Akhyar and Nik only arrived last night and this morning I let them sleep their fatigue off, while the rest of the team trained. I just talked to them earlier, and they're in good spirits. They are keen on performing in the tournament as it is their age group.

"They've been playing at the senior level and with this comes more experience. They already have the quality, that's why they are in the senior team too. The only problem is neither of them played the full 90 minutes regularly in the Malaysia Cup (for their clubs). I will have to gauge their confidence in playing for 90 minutes, only then will I decide whether they will start in matches.

Malaysia will play Saudi Arabia at the Patriot Candrabaga Stadium on Saturday, with kick-off at 7.00 pm Malaysian time.


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