Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Negri Sembilan striker Ahmad Shakir called up for Olympic squad

Ahmad Shakir Ali's excellent form with Super League side Negri Sembilan has earned him a call-up to the 25-member national Olympic training squad.

The 23-year-old last played for the team a year ago, and the striker is hoping to impress coach Ong Kim Swee for a spot in the final squad bound for Manama to face Bahrain in the Asian Zone Olympic Qualifiers on Feb 5.

"Ahmad Shakir has rediscovered his scoring form and it is only right for me to give him a chance," said Kim Swee.

Kim Swee will have more depth and options in his squad with the return of midfielder Gary Steven Robbart, along with Irfan Fazail and Syahrul Azwari from injuries.

The Olympic team need to beat Bahrain in a do-or-die match to re-ignite their playoff ambitions in Group C, which also comprise leaders Japan and Syria.

Kim Swee's squad have suffered three straight defeats in the qualifiers.

"It is still not impossible to make at least the playoff but we need to beat Bahrain first to have that chance.

"We need to be focused and determined in this match. I will prepare my players the best way I can," said Kim Swee, himself a former international.

Kim Swee will evaluate the form of his players in training, which begins today, before naming the final squad who depart on Feb 1.

The training squad comprise 16 members of the Young Tigers team, who will debut in next month's S-League, while seven others -- Zubir Mohd Azmi, Muslim Ahmad (Terengganu), Azrif Nasrulhaq (PKNS), Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan), K. Gurusamy (Selangor), Ahmad Fakri Saraani (Felda United) and Ahmad Shakir --  are from M-League teams.

On the Tigers' participation in the S-League, Kim Swee said the Singapore FA (FAS) has accommodated the national Under-23 team's international commitments.

"The S-League starts on Feb 9 but we will only begin our campaign two or three days later due to our match against Bahrain," said the coach.

"We are also not competing in the Singapore Cup in June as we will be busy with the AFC Under-22 Qualifiers."

The 3,400 capacity Yishun Stadium is the Tigers' home venue for the S-League.

The squad: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Zubir Mohd Azmi, Muslim Ahmad, K. Gurusamy, Ahmad Shakir Ali, Gary Steven Robbat, Mohd Affize Faisal, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor, Muhd Syazwan Tajuddin, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Mahalli Jasuli, Amer Saidin, Fandi Othman, Irfan Fazail, Mohd Izham Tarmizi, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Mohd Shahril Bin Sa'ari, Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Izuan Mohd Salahuddin, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Mohd Azizan Nordin, Wan Ahmad Amirzafran Wan Madris, Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq

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