Malaysian Olympic squad are in confident mood ahead of this month's Asian third round Group C qualifier against Japan after a recent successful training-cum-playing stint in Slovakia. The team, who were based on Vion, turned in commendable performances to win five of their seven matches against Slovak's top division teams.
Coach Ong Kim Swee used the stint to identify and rectify weaknesses in his team.
"I tested new tactics and rotated players around and all these try-outs worked well," said Kim Swee. "I would like to think that we are a better side now but it is too early to start making bold statements.
"We did enough to show that our preparation went smoothly but we need to work harder before the qualifiers."
Malaysia began their stint in Slovakia early last month with a 1-0 win over FK Slovan Levice and followed up with victories over FK Bodva Moldava (1-0), MFK Topvar (2-1), MFK Tatran Liptovsky (2-1) and MFK Dolny Kubin (2-0). They were beaten by Budapest Honved FC (4-1) and FC Nitra (1-0).
The squad returned from Slovakia on Sunday and will resume training tomorrow.
Malaysia will start their Olympic campaign against Japan on Sept 21 before two home matches against Syria (Nov 23) and Bahrain (Nov 27). The return legs are scheduled for next year.
Kim Swee has named 22 players for the match against Japan with two notable names omitted from the travelling squad to Fukuoka on Sept 16. They are striker Ahmad Fakri Saarani and midfielder Gary Steven Robbat, who are both suspended.
Three players -- Mohd Fadhli Shas, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor and Mohd Irfan Fazail -- who are on loan with FC Vion Zlate Moravce, will only return to KL on Sept 11.
Malaysia will play friendly matches against Iraqi club side Al-Arbil on Sept 9 and the Oman Olympic team five days later before they leave for Japan.