Analysis

Malaysia’s 20-man SEA Games squad profile

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SYAHMI SAFARI

Age: 19

Position: Right-wingback

Club: Selangor

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Promoted to the Selangor senior squad after a mass exodus, Syahmi grabbed his chance and is currently one of the brightest talent in the Red Giants’ ranks.

Syahmi is expected to be bit-part player at the Games and possibly gain experience ahead of the 2019 edition.

His versatility down the right also saw him used in the front-three of a 3-4-3 formation – the same tactics used by the Under-22s – in Selangor 2-1 win over Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions JDT, something Ong may have noticed.

MATTHEW DAVIES

Age: 22

Position: Right-back

Club: Pahang

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The Pahang skipper missed the AFC Under-23 qualifiers after his club refused to release him but now that he is back, the Australian-born defender is expected to fight his way into the starting 11.

Davies is far more accomplished compared to his peers his age, once even captaining the Australia Institute of Sports youth side before he arrived in Malaysia. He is also a regular member of the Harimau Malaya squad.

IRFAN ZAKARIA

Age: 22

Position: Central defence/midfield

Club: Kuala Lumpur

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Given a second chance in the squad after missing out on Ong’s first squad, Irfan will be thanking the latter for converting him into a central defender.

He was unlikely to make the line-up in his favoured position but Irfan’s reputation as a centre-back is growing, so much so he could consider making the switch permanent. That could also be a route to the MSL as he has less competition in a central defender role than what he would face in midfield.

SYAZWAN ZAIPOL BAHARI

Age: 22

Position: Centre-back

Club: PKNP

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The centre-back is expected to be cover for the first team at the Games.

Syazwan played in Malaysia’s 2-0 win against Mongolia in the qualifiers and while he came out good, the likes of Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will pose a greater threat.

AMIRUL HISYAM AWANG KECHIK

Age: 22

Position: Centre-midfield

Club: Kedah

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Another member of the squad with plenty of game time under his belt. Amirul is a starter at Kedah, going on to win the Malaysia Cup in 2016, and has been called up to the Malaysia squad several times in the past.

Amirul will be expected to provide the muscle in the engine room and protect the back-four in a holding role.