Malaysia will name a 25-man provisional squad for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup this week. Vijhay Vick lists a possible squad that Tigers coach Ong Kim Swee could turn to for the season-ending tournament.
Izham Tarmizi Roslan
This Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) custodian is arguably Malaysia’s No. 1 but missed the September call-up due to injury and was left out against Singapore and Afghanistan in October to allow Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy some time with the squad.
Khairul Fahmi Che Mat
Consistently performing at the top of his game since winning the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Kelantan stalwart adds experience to the squad. He is expected to be first choice should Izham be left out again.
Khairul Azhan Khalid
The Selangor player returned to contention after Izham’s absence and put out a brave display against Singapore this month to stake a strong claim for a spot in the team.
There isn’t a better a left-back in the country at the moment than this 22-year-old. He was conspicuously absent in the previous two squads but Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee, who holds Fazly’s work rate in high regard, is expected to recall the JDT youngster for the regional competition.
Nazirul Naim Che Hashim
The Perak lad started at left-back against Singapore and Afghanistan, a sign that he is Fazly’s back-up for the position. Nazirul did not enjoy the best of games against the Lions but improved against the Afghans. He also packs a thunderous free-kick.
S. Kunanlan’s retirement has opened the door for Davies, captain of Pahang, to cement a starting place. The 21-year-old Australian-born right-back isn’t the most spectacular of players around but he is difficult to beat at the back and is starting to improve with his overlapping runs.
Having done enough in his debut against Singapore, Rizal is expected to make the plane to Myanmar. His consistent performances throughout the season for Kedah will keep Davies on his toes.
Having only cemented a place in the national team this year despite being already 31, Shahrom is proving to be a late bloomer that is ready to go the full distance for the Tigers. He is crucial at the back and actually shed a few pounds after being told he was overweight for international football back in March.
The JDT benchwarmer has been far from consistent this year and probably doesn’t deserve to be in the squad, but options are thin at the back. Fadhli, 25, is the most capped defender in the squad with over 50 appearances since 2011.
Khairul Helmi Johari
The Kedah skipper earned his second cap in six years against Singapore and took some time to get used to the pace of the international stage. He is currently out injured but could make the squad if he recovers in time. Otherwise, Sarawak’s Ronny Harun is likely to be named in the call-up.
The former Harimau Muda defender put out a decent display in a holding midfield role against Afghanistan, a position he could get used to during the Suzuki Cup due to Brendan Gan’s injury. If Ong can find another suitable player to do the dirty job in midfield, Shahrul could partner Shahrom in the heart of defence.