10 possible Malaysia call-ups to face Indonesia
Shahrul Saad (Perak)
The Malaysians are short of options in central defence following the international retirement of Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and injuries to Shahrom Kalam and Junior Eldstal, leaving Shahrul with a high chance of returning to the national team.
Shahrul made his debut for the Tigers against Macau in March but failed to make the squad for the Asian Cup qualifying playoff against Timor Leste in June.
The 23-year-old can also play in the holding midfield role, a versatility that may earn him extra credit when Ong finalises the squad. Shahrul could also be the one with the most game time among the central defenders in the squad as Malaysia’s other centre-back Fadhli Shas has not been getting regular game time at Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
Matthew Davies (Pahang)
His name would not even be on this list had he not suffered a back injury in June, where he earned a call-up but was forced to withdraw.
Davies has put on several impressive displays in the national colours since making his debut against Saudi Arabia last September but was deemed behind JDT’s S. Kunanlan in the pecking order. Davies, however, can make the right-back spot his own following Kunanlan’s retirement.
Just 21 years old, Davies is already club captain at Pahang. Azrif Nasrulhaq is another capable player for the right-back position but having put out a performance worthy of a man of the match award against Timor Leste, the new JDT signing is likely to remain a winger despite playing in defence at club level.
Nazirul Naim Che Hashim (Perak)
Nazirul was among the players dropped after the scoreless tie with Macau, then the second-worst side in Asia according to the rankings, but the youngster has put out consistent performance in recent matches.
Ong could be tempted to recall Nazirul after Khair Jones failed to convince in the last call-up. The 23-year-old former Harimau Muda trainee also has experience to draw upon from his Japan stint with FC Ryukyu in 2013.
He is unlikely to make the starting line-up as JDT’s young starlet Fazly Mazlan has been in immaculate form, but Nazirul can fit in comfortably should the need arise.
Ronny Harun (Sarawak)
Ronny only made a long awaited comeback for Sarawak this month, but the Malaysians need experience at the back following Aidil’s retirement and Shahrom’s knee injury.
The 32-year-old does not have many international games under his belt but has made the squad many times since making his debut in 2005. He has often displayed his leadership qualities at Sarawak and is not one to shy away from a challenge.
Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor (Kelantan)
The winger is no stranger to the national team, having made his debut as a 21-year-old under K. Rajagobal in 2012, when he was often seen sprinting past opponents and leaving them wrong-footed.
Yet four years later, Wan Zack is having to prove himself again after a string of injuries and lacklustre performances in national colours. The Kelantan midfielder featured against Saudi Arabia and Macau in March but was dropped in the following international break.
Wan Zack, however, has been in fine form for Kelantan since July with four goals in all competitions – including a winner away to Penang in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) on Tuesday – and could earn a call-up once more.
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