The Malaysia national under-23 squad started their training on Tuesday evening in Kelana Jaya as Ong Kim Swee gathers his squad for a short training camp before the real work kicks in August. Ong's team are slated to participate in the upcoming 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
Only 23 of the 27 players called up for the training camp turned up on the first day with three others expected to arrive a day later. Haziq Nadzli, Dominic Tan and Adib Zainudin have activities related to their club and will only report for training on Wednesday. Meanwhile Ong explained that one other player will drop out from the squad due to injury.
"Four players from JDT will only report on Wednesday, while we receive letter stating Syamer [Kutty Abba] is injured and will not join the party. There will not be any replacement because of the short time and we are only training for 6 days before playing Felda on Friday."
"This camp I want to see their understanding and a different playing style. The players need to know what we want from them from a tactical on-pitch standpoint as well as matters off the pitch," said Ong prior to the training session on Tuesday.
During this camp, the squad will have a sparring match with B. Sathinathan's Felda United scheduled in before the players return to their respective clubs. The next camp is expected to be in early August where Ong is still looking to finalise a final friendly match against either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia before departing for Jakarta for the Asian Games.
The football competition rules in the Asian Games allow three over-age players to be included in the participating squad and as of now, Ong has only called up one Kedah midfielder. According to the head coach, he intends to fully utilise the quota and will be looking at fielding experienced names in the the centre of defence as well as another midfielder.
"We don't anticipate any problems with players' release. All clubs are aware of the Asian Games schedule. I hope there will be no late changes on that front. Right now only Baddrol Bakhtiar is called up but of course I will be looking to fill up the balance two spots for over-age players," added Ong.