Malaysia’s 20-man SEA Games squad profile
JAFRI FIRDAUS CHEW
Jafri may not have shown his finishing prowess in previous matches but Ong has reiterated that the Penang forward will come good at the Games and could even be among Malaysia’s best players.
Jafri has represented Malaysia at various age groups and is tipped to be among the up and coming strikers in the country. FourFourTwo understands he could be roped into Nelo Vingada’s Malaysia squad after the Games.
The Penang striker was always expected to be in the squad but his inclusion was actually a late one because of a hamstring injury picked during club duty.
Like Jafri, Kumaahran has been representing Malaysia at various age-groups in the past. Kumaahran, however, has more first-team football. Having gone up against foreign centre-backs in the MSL may have prepared the centre-forward for the Games.
Not the most technically gifted player but the tireless Thanabalan is playing his hearts out.
Becoming the sole-breadwinner of the family almost saw him abandon football but Thanabalan will be glad he persevered. He dropped to the third-tier FAM League to get more game time and it has benefitted him.
Thanabalan, who scored two goals at the qualifiers in Bangkok, may have to contend with a place on the bench because of the inclusion of Kumaahran and Safawi Rasid this time around.
The speedy left-footer has grown in strength since making the break at T-Team last year.
He was a standout for the Titans, got in contention for a place at the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup and later secured a moved to Malaysians champions JDT. His playing time, however, has reduced tremendously because of the depth JDT have but Safawi does have several AFC Cup matches under his belt.
Labelled a wonderkid by some, Akhyar is the youngest member of Malaysia’s squad. He is eligible for the following two Games in 2019 and 2021 too.
Akhyar is unlikely to start ahead of Kumaahran, Jafri and Syafiq but he fits the profile of an impact substitute. He was Malaysia’s most exciting player going forward when he came off the bench in the Malaysia’s 3-0 defeat to Thailand in July.