Generation Next: 11 players who could play for Malaysia

The Malaysians are in need of new faces in the national team. Vijhay Vick takes a look at who could break into the Harimau Malaya squad next year…

Izham Tarmizi Roslan

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 24

Club: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT)

International status: Current Malaysia international

The former Harimau Muda No.1 was always tipped for the national team since he joined Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) development programme in 2010. Under the guidance of Kris Yong, Izham went on to establish himself Malaysia Under-23’s first choice in 2012, succeeding the overage Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.

Izham signed for JDT for the 2014 season and is tipped to be JDT’s mainstay between the sticks for years to come. The Southern Tigers have already showed trust in this young goalkeeper, starting him in seven AFC Cup matches this year.

Though he lacks physique, the up-and-coming custodian still proved a commanding presence in his first international start against United Arab Emirates (UAE). In October, Izham told FourFourTwo he expects 2016 to be his year.

Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham

Position: Defender

Age: 24

Club: Selangor

International status: Current Malaysia international

The Selangor left-back has established himself in the Red Giants starting line-up under Mehmet Durakovic since joining them at the start of this season. He replaced JDT-bound S. Kunanlan and is now taking plaudits for his consistency.

He started his professional career as an 18-year-old with PKNS in 2010 and represented Selangor in the 2011 Malaysian Games, where he impressed. One good thing quickly led to another, and he earned a call-up to the Harimau Muda project until 2014.

He was part of the 2013 SEA Games and 2014 Asian Games squads. Azrif can play on both sides of defence and is on the verge of breaking into the senior Malaysia set-up. He earned a call-up to the national team in November after injuries ruled out S. Kunanlan and Zubir Azmi.

His hard work and perseverance paid off when he came on as a 69th-minute substitute for right-winger Azamuddin Akil in Malaysia’s 2-1 loss to UAE in November.

Shahrul Saad

Position: Defender

Age: 22

Club: Felda United

International status: Current Malaysia international

The former Harimau Muda central defender finally made the step up to regular first-team football at Felda and has not disappointed despite being deployed in the holding midfield role. Shahrul has been used by Irfan Bakti Abu Salim in 17 of their 22 Malaysia Super League matches as the Felda coach decides to place his faith in youth.

The Perakian made his first two appearances for the senior team as a substitute against Laos and Timor Leste – Malaysia’s only two wins in 2015. Shahrul made his first start for the Malaysians in their 6-0 drubbing against Palestine in November.

Though his first start proved a nightmare in terms of the result, Shahrul provided some steel in Malaysia’s weakened midfield with injuries to Baddrol Bakhtiar, S. Kunanlan and Azamuddin Akil.

Outstanding in his improvised position, Shahrul previously told FourFourTwo he was growing into his new position. He could yet feature in Malaysia’s engine room, though the dearth of outstanding young Malaysian central defenders means he’s most assured a regular place at the back for his country.

Amer Saidin

Position: Defender

Age: 23

Club: JDT

International status: Malaysia under-23s

Signed for JDT in 2015, Amer is currently behind Marcos Antonio, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and even midfielder Junior Eldstal (when fit) in the pecking order.

He only made four appearances in JDT’s successful MSL title defence this year, but did feature in five of the club’s Malaysia Cup group matches. This was partly due to JDT’s AFC Cup participation, with the Southern Tigers rotating their players to keep them fresh.

Amer came through as a product of Harimau Muda, where he was part of Ong Kim Swee’s under-23 development squad between 2010 to 2014. He represented Malaysia at the 2014 Asian Games and was part of the 2011 and 2015 SEA Games squads.

With the country’s emerging issue of a lack of young centre-backs, Amer’s growing role with JDT puts him among the more experienced of his cohort.