Malaysia U22s: Who’s hot, who’s out

Qualification to the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship provided some hope for Malaysia’s under-22 side ahead of the 2017 SEA Games. Vijhay Vick listed five players that turned up and two that may not be in the next squad… 

HOT

Daniel Amier Norhisham

Without a club after Frenz United was disbanded last year, Danial almost had to turn his back on the sport after going eight months without a club.

Felda United offered him a lifeline and Danial has made the most of it.

Having already played for Malaysia at under-19 level, Danial is no stranger to some of his teammates. He wasn’t expected to be a starter, however.

Yet the unavailability of Syamer Kutty Abba, who was not released by Malaysia Super League (MSL) side Penang, offered Danial an opportunity to show his worth.

Danial started all three games in Bangkok and although he is not a finished product, his ability to dictate attacks from midfield will be a valuable asset to the Young Tigers.

Adam Nor Azlin

His experience with Harimau Muda and Malaysia under-23 at the 2015 SEA Games puts Adam as among the most experienced players in the squad.

Now permanently a centre-back, the 21-year-old Selangor youngster was even given the armband against Mongolia in the final qualifying match after Adib Zainuddin was rested.

He had a good game against Indonesia, some nervy moments against Thailand in the second match and an outstanding game against Mongolia. There were the occasional lapses of concentration but fatigue could be the cause of that.

Adam is a regular starter at Selangor and had played five times with the Red Giants since July 1 before joining Ong Kim Swee’s squad. The qualifiers saw teams play three games in five days.

N. Thanabalan

Often overlooked as among the performers in the, Thanabalan is eager to make up for lost time.

Though not the most technically gifted, the winger is willing to work hard and that is winning the hearts of his coaches and teammates.

Thanabalan, who moved to Felcra on loan from Negeri Sembilan this year, got two goals to his name in Bangkok and is staking a strong claim for a starting spot.

Akhyar Abdul Rashid

The Kedah youngster was a last-minute addition to the squad after several players were ruled out, and he may have done enough to warrant another call-up in August.

The 18-year-old forward never got on the score sheet nor did he do himself justice when given a starting role against Mongolia, but was among Malaysia’s liveliest of players when he came off the bench in the 3-0 defeat to Thailand.

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Akhyar, who was included in the Kedah senior squad by Tan Cheng Hoe this season, may not be ready to start matches yet as he is down the pecking order behind Jafri Chew, S. Kumaahran and Syafiq Ahmad, but he could be a good option off the bench.

Akhyar even had a month-long training stint with Cardiff City when he was 15 years old.

Syafiq Ahmad

Another product of Kedah’s youth system, Syafiq is proving to be an important player for the under-22 squad.

The forward entered the competition after a good show against Myanmar Under-22 in a friendly at Shah Alam and he picked up where he left off, constantly being a threat to the Indonesians. He also scored the opening goal of the match as Malaysia won 3-0.

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His absence against Thailand, because of a knock from the opening match, was felt as Jafri did not get the same service as he did in previous matches.

He returned to action as a first-half substitute against Mongolia and his presence was made felt immediately.

OUT

Nur Shamie Iszuan

Already a regular at Sarawak since 2016, Shamie should really be among those pushing for a starting place.

Instead, the speedy winger may have cost himself place in the squad after a poor performance against Mongolia – his only start in the qualifiers – and Thailand.

Such was his display that Ong did not even wait until half-time to ring changes, bringing on Syahmi Safari on the 38th minute.

Ong had entered the competition demanding his players to fight their way through, especially after having very little preparation and the absence of several key players.

But Shamie fell short of expectations and may not find his name in the next call up.

Fauzan Fauzi

Like Shamie, Fauzan was given a start against Mongolia because the team needed fresh legs after two demanding ties.

Just like the Sarawak winger, this Negeri Sembilan player did not live up to the mark and was taken off in a rare first-half double substitution that resulted in Syafiq and Syahmi taking the field.

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The match against Mongolia was expected to be a walk in the park considering the manner in which Indonesia disposed of them 7-0 in the second round of group matches two days earlier.

Yet Fauzan struggled and looking at how the challenge at the SEA Games would be stronger from the likes of Myanmar and Singapore, the defender did little justice to warrant another call up.

Photos: Asiana.my