National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee will use the final Asian Zone Group C Olympic qualifying match against Syria in Jordan tomorrow as a stepping stone for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-22 Asian Cup qualifier.
The team’s Olympic dream has long ended after they failed to collect a single point from five matches, having lost by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain.
In Manama on Feb 5, Malaysia’s hopes of even qualifying for the playoffs hit the skids after they lost 2-1 to Bahrain. This was followed by a 4-0 routing by Japan at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Feb 22.
No wonder Kim Swee wants to use the match against Syria to start rebuilding his team for the inaugural AFC Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers, scheduled to kick off on June 23.
Kim Swee has opted for several new faces in his final 18 squad for the trip to Amman – including Harimau Muda A forward D. Saarvindran, Sarawak striker Ashri Chuchu and Sabah midfielder Rozaimi Abdul Rahman – in a bid to expand the pool of players and to expose them to higher levels of competition.
Midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and striker A. Thamil Arasu have been dropped from the trip with groin and toe injuries. The others players left behind are goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Izuan Salahuddin and Mohd Ferris Danial Mat Nasir.