Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Olympic squad coach wants better performance in remaining qualifiers

Malaysian Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee wants redemption even if the Olympic qualifers, which resume next month, seem like a lost cause.

Malaysia, who are winless and at the bottom of the four-team group, have only the slimmest of chances to make the cut, but Kim Swee wants his men to make a mark in the remaining three fixtures, beginning with Bahrain in Manama on Feb 5.

“All is not lost … yet. We will give it our best shot and see what happens,” said Kim Swee, whose boys will resume training at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya today.

A total of 25 players have been named, the majority of them from the 2011 Jakarta SEA Games gold medal-winning squad.

Kim Swee has also recalled Harimau Muda A midfielder Gary Steven Robbat, who was left out from the SEA Games squad due to a knee injury.

“I will give Gary every chance to regain his place in the team. It will be tough, but he will have to work his way back,” said Kim Swee.

Mohd Nazmi Faiz Mansor, 18, who was a last-minute call-up for the SEA Games following injuries to Gary and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, is also in the squad.

Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim and Mohd Irfan Fazail, who picked up injuries in Jakarta, also return but lanky Izzaq Faris Ramlan, who is recuperating after a knee surgery, is a notable absentee.

Malaysia have lost all three first leg matches in the third and final round of the Olympic qualifiers — going down 2-0 to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain.

Only 3.5 slots are available to Asia for the London Games. The three group winners advance automatically while the three runners-up will play another round of matches. The winners will then face a play-off against another qualifier from Africa.

Malaysia’s remaining matches are against Syria at the Prince Mohammed Stadium on Feb 22 and Japan at the National Stadium on March 14.

The Harimau Muda A squad, under Kim Swee, will play in the Singapore League (S-League) scheduled to start on Feb 9.

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