It has been 17 months since Tan Cheng Hoe took over from Eduardo Vingada and many matches have been played, call-ups have been done including for one AFF Suzuki Cup tournament. Yet the latest call-up released on May 16 for the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers is undeniably the best bunch of players that he has managed to assembled.
Unless there's any injuries in the coming weeks, even when this squad of 26 is trimmed to 23, TCH will still have in his choice the chance to field the best Malaysian XI he ever could in his time in charge. All the talk about including more naturalised players into the team did not quite come into fruition for this set of matches against Nepal (friendly) and Timor Leste (qualifiers).
It is wonderful to see that perhaps for the first time, a very serious attitude has been adopted in light of the coming crucial matches. There's no time for experimentation, no room sentimentality, just straight forward naming of the best available players and then making them fit the system which TCH likes to employ.
There's a first call-up to the senior team for three defenders in La'Vere Corbin-Ong, Dominic Tan and Rodney Akwensivie. All of whom have produced consistent performances for Johor Darul Ta'zim, Johor Darul Ta'zim II and PKNS FC in the 2019 domestic season respectively.
Without Zaquan Adha in the squad, it does mean that the striking position is up for grabs as TCH is working seemingly to evolve the team that went all the way to the Suzuki Cup final last year. Of those who are in the list, Syafiq Ahmad looks the one who could be given the trust to lead the line in June.
Malaysia take on Nepal on June 2 before a double header header against Timor Leste on June 7 and June 11. All matches will be played at Bukit Jalil National Stadium with the kick-off schedule for 10pm in the first match and 8:45pm in the subsequent two matches.
Squad in full:
Defender: Adam Nor Azlin (JDT), La'Vere Corbin-Ong (JDT), Dominic Tan (JDT), Syazwan Andik (JDT), Matthew Davies (Pahang), Syahmi Safari (Selangor), Shahrul Saad (Perak), Rodney Akwensivie (PKNS FC), Irfan Zakaria (Kuala Lumpur)
Midfielder: Akram Mahinan (PKNS FC), Kenny Pallraj (Perak), Halim Saari (Selangor), Faiz Nasir (Selangor), Syamer Kutty Abba (JDT), Nor Azam Azih (Pahang)
Forward: Akhyar Rashid (JDT), Safawi Rasid (JDT), Syafiq Ahmad (JDT), Mohamadou Sumareh (Pahang), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Pahang), Faisal Halim (Pahang), Syazwan Zainon (Selangor), Shahrel Fikri (Perak)
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