Malaysian players told to go away

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's under-23 players should go abroad and play more competitive matches in order to build on their South East Asian Games success, the country's former coach Datuk Ghani Minhat said.

Minhat suggested more players like Mohd Bunyamin Omar, who had a short stint with Premier League leaders Chelsea, should go abroad for longer spells to help the side improve on their gold medal in Laos last month.

"Programmes like this must go on for at least a season not just a short stint like what was done before," Minhat told the Bernama news agency.

"Apart from training, players need competitive matches regularly to experiment what they have learned in training.

"They must play competitive matches at least once a week. If just training, they can even do it here."

Another option, suggested by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek was that the team be retained as a unit instead of the players returning to their domestic clubs.

Malaysia, ranked 160th in the world by FIFA, missed out on qualification for the 2011 Asian Cup after losing 1-0 to the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.