Friday, 26 August 2011

Malaysia to play Oman to prepare for Olympic qualifiers

Malaysia will play a final test match against the Oman Olympic team on Sept 14 ahead of their Asian Zone final round qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics.

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee said that the match against Oman in Kuala Lumpur will be the right tonic for the boys before they open their Asian Zone campaign against Japan in Fukuoka on Sept 21.

“It is good we have managed to find a strong opponent before playing Japan. It will serve as a good preparation for the boys,” said Kim Swee in an telephone interview from Slovakia yesterday.

Kim Swee is currently with the National Under-23 squad in Slovakia. A total of 30 players left for Slovakia on July 23 for a training-cum-playing stint against Slovakian Division One clubs and are scheduled to return home on Sunday.

The boys will be given a three-day break for the Hari Raya holidays and will resume training at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Sept 1. A friendly match against an Iraqi Premier League side Arbil SC has also been lined up for Nov 8 before the team leave for Fukuoka on Nov 16.

 Kim Swee has named 22 players for the match against Japan with two notable names ommitted from the travelling squad to Fukuoka on Nov 16. They are striker Ahmad Fakri Saarani (pic) and midfielder Gary Steven Robbat, who are both serving out suspensions.

Another three players Mohd Fadhli Shas, Wan Zack Haikal and Mohd Irfan Fazail will extend their stay in Slovakia with Division One club side Vion FC on loan until Sept 11.

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) are awaiting a reply from the Syrian FA whether they would be able to postpone the home game on Nov 23 to allow Kim Swee’s boys more time to rest as they have to concentrate on the Olympic qualifiers and the SEA Games in Indonesia.

Kim Swee, who handles the Harimau Muda A team, has been given the mandate to take charge of both the assignments (Olympic qualifiers and SEA Games) but the former international will find it almost impossible to field his best team for the two competitions because of the tight playing schedules.

The SEA Games football matches will kick off on Nov 7 and the final is on Nov 22 while Malaysia’s campaign in the Olympic qualifiers begins with an away match against Japan on Sept 21 followed by two home matches against Syria and Bahrain on Nov 23 and 27 respectively.

Malaysia, who won the SEA Games gold medal after a lapse of 20 years in 2009, will start as the favourites in Indonesia and assuming they qualify for the final (on Nov 22) there is no way they can play the Olympic qualifying match against Syria in Kuala Lumpur the following day (Nov 23).

Under FIFA competition regulations the players must have 48 hours of rest after an international game.

The FAM are in a quandary and may have have to find other options including placing an Under-23 “B” team and a coach on standby for their SEA Games campaign if the Syrian FA do not agree to a postponement of the match on Nov 23.

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