Friday, 9 December 2011

Olympic squad coach Kim Swee to rebuild team with new players

Ong Kim Swee is looking to the future as he plans to blood younger players into the national under-23 team when they embark on a tour of Australia today.

Several players have left the Young Tigers team following the Sea Games success to join Super Leagues sides and national youth coach Kim Swee said this will allow those who have not had enough playing time a chance to stake a claim in the squad.

With the Young Tigers competing in the S-League next year and another three matches remaining in the Olympic qualifying campaign, these high-quality games will be the perfect ground to test the second-liners.

But before that, the Young Tigers take on Australian A-League clubs Sydney FC (Tuesday), Central Coast Mariners (Thursday) and Newcastle Jets (Dec 19) in a series of friendly matches in Sydney.

"I want to give the new players I have called up and those in the Young Tigers team who have seldom seen action a chance to press their claim in the team. I want to test them against the Australian clubs because the intensity when playing in international and domestic league matches is different.

"These matches will allow me to see if they can cope with the higher standard of play and also as part of our preparation for the S-League," said Kim Swee yesterday.

Although Kim Swee has called up 30 players for training, only 23 will travel to Sydney, including Muslim Ahmad, Abdul Shukor Jusoh (both Terengganu) and K. Gurusamy (Selangor), who have left the Young Tigers team and will play with their home states in the Super League this season, and Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, mourning the loss of his younger brother to dengue earlier this week.

To compensate for their absence in the S-League next year, Kim Swee has drafted in several newcomers, including Terengganu goalkeeper Shahril Saari, Kelantan defender Nik Mohd Syahrul Azim, Young Tigers B players Azizan Nordin, Akmal Ishak, Shahrul Saad, Nur Areff Kamaruddin and Farhan Abu Bakar.

Five players -- Izzaq Faris Ramlan, Gary Steven Robbat, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Irfan Fazail and Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria -- will be excluded from the tour due to injury.

Izzaq, who is sidelined for six months after injuring his anterior cruciate ligament in Jakarta, is also out of the S-League campaign but Kim Swee has moved to sign talented left-footer Ahmad Hazwan Bakri from Kuala Lumpur.

Left-back Affize Faisal Mamat's decision not to join Terengganu also provides the necessary experience to the young side.

"With Affize and Mahalli (Jasuli) still here, I have two to three experienced players to guide the younger ones. We've still got three Olympic qualifying matches to play and the question is do we take this opportunity to go for results or expose the younger players.

"Personally, I feel we should give the younger players a chance and I know people have high expectations of the team.

"But it won't be a completely inexperienced side as I still have Irfan, Gary, Thamil (Arasu), Fandi (Othman) and Wan Zack.

"There is the AFC Under-22 qualifiers to look forward to next year and by exposing the new players, we can still play a good game," said Kim Swee.

The AFC Under-22 Championship is a new tournament which will be held in June 2013 and in future serve as a qualifying tournament for the Olympics.

Malaysia's remaining Olympic qualifying's games are against Bahrain away (Feb 5), Japan at home (Feb 22) and Syria away (March 14).

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