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Senior players Ong Kim Swee could call-up for Asian Games

Malaysia Under-23 head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee will announce his squad for the upcoming Asian Games in the coming week or so. These overage plays could be selected

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While Ong will most likely stick with the core squad which did well to reach the AFC U23 Championships quarterfinals in January, he has the luxury of choosing three overage players for the tournament which begins in various cities in Indonesia come mid-August. 

While Ong doesn’t have the quality of Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-Min who was selected by South Korea, he can count on a few experienced heads to add stature to his squad.

Helmi Eliza (Pahang FA, 35, goalkeeper)

This senior custodian will relish a national call-up after impressing in goal for the Elephants this season. Helmi has been instrumental in the league and also the FA Cup title winning run. The 35-year-old has defied his age with a few man-of-the-match performances this season, and only conceded 17 goals in the league to date. That is the second lowest conceded besides Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT). Dollah Salleh may have big problems if Helmi gets Ong’s attention. 

Corbin-Ong (JDT, 27, defender)

This English-born Malaysian has slotted in seamlessly into the Southern Tigers backline ever since coming into the Malaysian league this year. Fazly Mazlan was duly dispatched and Corbin made the left wing-back slot his own. Despite being too physical at times, the lanky defender provides a decent attacking threat through his crosses and also with his bombing throw-ins. Ong could do with someone like Corbin to give that position depth. 

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Pahang, 32, forward)

The man fondly known as ‘Mat Yo’ has shown glimpses of being back to his sizzling best ever since returning from injury not too long ago. Norshahrul has dazzled with his quick feet, unpredictability and exceptional close control dribbling that earned rave reviews from Dollah and his teammates. Ong will need an experienced game changer in his ranks, and Norshahrul could be that man. A call-up would also be preview to see if he can make the senior team for November’s AFF Suzuki Cup. 

Shahrul Saad (Perak FA, 25, defender)

One of the toughest tackling defenders in the league, Shahrul’s commitment and consistency this season could catch Ong’s eye. Always the utility man in the squad, Shahrul is able to play as centre-back or as a holding midfielder. This season, he has been excelled as central defender with two different partners. After Robert Cornthwaite retired from the game, Shahrul struck up an equally formidable partnership with Lebanon’s Jad Noureddine. He could be a key man for Malaysia if he gets a call-up.