SUBANG – Rozaimi Abdul Rahman and Muhammad Ferris Danial Mat Nasir are not in the final list selected by under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee for the SEA Games in Singapore next month.
Kim Swee said the decision to drop the two strikers was the most difficult one in his career in guiding the national squad.
“After taking into account several matters, I am forced to drop Rozaimi and Ferris Danial. I evaluated the performance of all players. On the first day when all the players reported in, I informed them that their performance and fitness were uppermost.
“I cannot satisfy everybody. As football players, they are aware that current performance is most important,” he told a news conference to announce the list of 20 players to the SEA Games in Singapore last night at a hotel, here.
Although Rozaimi and Ferris Danial were not listed, Kim Swee said he had Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim and Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat who could play in midfield and attack.
Kim Swee also picked defender Mohamad Fandi Othman as team captain while midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and another midfield player Mohamad Amer Saidin were appointed his deputies.
“Fandi has played thrice at the SEA Games, so he has wide experience in this championship and also in the Asian Games,” he said.
Mohamad Fandi, when met, said as a senior player and had experience playing at the previous SEA Games, he was optimistic the team could repeat its success in winning the gold medal, which was won in 2011 in Indonesia.
“To me, it does not matter who is captain because as a team, we have one and the same mission — to bring home the gold medal we have won before. The first match against Timor Leste is crucial…we will ensure we get three first points from the match,” said Mohamad Fandi.
Malaysia will have a difficult path in football at the biennial Games after being drawn in Group B with defending champions Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste.
The young national squad will open their campaign facing Timor Leste on May 30, Vietnam (June 2), Thailand (June 4) and Brunei (June 8) before ending their group-level action against Laos on June 11.
All Group B matches will take place at Bishan Stadium while the Group A action will involve host Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Cambodia at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The following is the list of 20 under-23 Malaysian players who will be in action in Singapore:
Mohd Farhan Abu Bakar, Mohamad Firdaus Muhamad, Shahrul Mohd Saad, Muhamad Syazwan Tajudin, Mohamad Fandi Othman, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Muhammad Ariff Farhan Md Isa, Adam Nor Azlin, Mohamad Amer Saidin, Matthew Thomas Davies, Saarvindran Devanndran, Muhammad Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat, Gary Steven Robbat, Muhammad Nurridzuan Abu Hassan Saari, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Muhammad Faizat Mohamad Ghazli, Mohamad Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Muhamad Syafiq Ahmad and Kumaahran Sathasivam. – BERNAMA