Harimau Malaysia coach, Ong Kim Swee has challenged his charges to prove themselves worthy of a spot in the national squad for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup in Yangon, Myanmar.
The Malaccan coach retained only 11 out of the 24 players involved in the 2016 Oceanic Tour last June, after the retirement of former skipper Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, S Kunanlan and Amirulhadi Zainal while several more are injured.
He has high hopes on some of the national debutants, namely former Harimau Muda A captain Irfan Fazail, Amer Saidin, S Veenod, Hafizul Hakim, Fakrul Aiman and Safawi Rasid.
“Most of the players that were selected this time have experience playing at the international stage in the youth squads before this, and they are now given a chance to prove themselves in the senior team.
“For example, Irfan has experienced playing for Harimau Muda at the SEA Games and the Olympic qualifiers. This will be a challenge for him, Amer Saidin and Wan Zack Haikal to prove that they can compete at the highest level,” said Kim Swee, as quoted by Harian Metro.
As the AFF Suzuki Cup looms closer, Kim Swee wants to get a good rhythm going with his players when they face Indonesia in a friendly match at the Manahan Stadium on 6 September.
“The training camp period will be short this time since we have a packed schedule and there’s nothing I can do about it. I need to focus on getting the right combination as we lost our main 11 that were in action at the Oceanic Tour and against Timor-Leste.
“These are my best players as of now and they have to prove to me that they can compete on the international stage before I make my final preparations,” he said.