The Malaysian under-21 team suffered a setback after star player Farhan Roslan was ruled out of the Nations Cup squad due to a groin injury.
Farhan will miss the Nations Cup after all despite harbouring hopes of recovering in time for the inaugural edition of the competition on June 3 and 5.
The 20-year-old got injured during Kedah’s 2-0 win against PDRM in their Malaysia Super League (MSL) match at the Darul Aman Stadium on May 18 and did not feature in the Red Eagles' following match against the same opponents three days later.
Farhan was confident that he would recover in time for the tournament but the national under-21 coach Frank Bernhardt did not want to risk taking the winger to Malacca.
Farhan is currently waiting for his medical report to assess the extent of the groin injury.
“I’m disappointed that I can’t play in the Nations Cup but I’m confident of getting back to action very soon. I wish my teammates all the best for the tournament and hope we can bring back the trophy,” Farhan said.
Meanwhile, Farhan’s Kedah teammates Syafiq Ahmad and Arif Farhan Md Isa are hoping to impress the German coach for a slot in the final 24-man squad for the four-nation showpiece involving Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand.
Syafiq, who was a member of the national team at the 2015 Singapore SEA Games, is looking forward to erasing the bitter memories at the Bishan Stadium after the Malaysians endured troubled times and failed to even qualify for semi-finals.
“I am really looking forward for a slot in the final squad as we are host for the Nations Cup. Furthermore, the defeat at the SEA Games still haunts me as it was my first international assignment. I want to get over those bad memories with a good performance at the Nations Cup,” said the striker.
“Given the chance I will go out and score as many goals. My game has improved a lot ever since I started playing in the MSL. My confidence has grown too and I believe I can contribute much more this time,” he added.
Former Harimau Muda defender, Arif Farhan, 20, added that the team is focused on winning the Nations Cup in front of home fans, a feat that could boost their confidence going into the 2017 Southeast Games in Kuala Lumpur.
“My experience playing for Harimau Muda over the last four years and MSL this season for Kedah has helped me a lot. I am now at a different level compared to what I was four years ago as a rookie. We should not fear our opposition as technically we are equally strong. It is just a psychological battle out there when we step on the pitch,” said Arif Farhan.
Thailand, the 2015 SEA Games gold medallists, take on Vietnam on June 3 (kickoff 4.45pm) followed by the Malaysia and Singapore tie at night (8.45pm). The two winners and losers play each other respectively on June 5.comments