S.League Club Preview: Harimau Muda B
What Happened Last Season?
Replacing the pioneering Harimau Muda ‘A’ side from 2012 and replicating their sterling fifth-place finish on debut was always going to be a huge ask in a very young squad. While they had more than held their own against older opponents, their inexperience eventually told as they finished second from bottom in their sophomore campaign. They learnt enough during the season to collect the Plate trophy in the StarHub League Cup, but not a single player was deemed good enough to make the Southeast Asian Games squad that finished fourth in Myanmar in December.
HARIMAU MUDA B
Home ground: Stadium Pasir Gudang, Pasir Gudang, Malaysia
Nickname: Young Tigers
Last Season: 11th Place
League Cup: Plate Winners
Singapore Cup: First Round
Once again, it’s a new-look team for the upcoming season with fewer than five players retained from their 2013 squad. Several have been moved up to the ‘A’ side, with a few returning to Malaysian league clubs. Another learning experience looms for several rookies who have been pushed up from the junior ‘C’ side as they get used to the rigours of senior professional football on the other side of the causeway.
Youthful enthusiasm and energy will keep Razip Ismail’s boys running through the full duration of games. Individually talented, they possess the skills and stamina to stretch fast-tiring defences as their opponents wilt.
A lack of guile and experience will place them at a disadvantage, especially against strong, seasoned challengers who know how to combat their technical and fitness levels.
Did you know?
Harimau Muda B head coach Razip Ismail was involved with successful sides in his playing days, winning the Malaysia Cup from 1987 to 1989 alongside Serbegeth “Shebby” Singh and Fandi Ahmad and also winning a Southeast Asian Games gold medal in 1989.
The Boss – Razip Ismail
The 51-year-old is into his second year on the job, having previously been involved with Kuala Lumpur FA in 2012. A former defender, he places emphasis on the technical and tactical development of his charges above results as he pushes them on the next step towards professional football. Conservative in his tactical options, he prefers a no-frills 4-4-2 formation.
Players to Watch
- Ashmawi Yakin
The centre-back is a canny reader of the game and a stalwart at the heart of the Young Tigers’ defence. In his second year with the side, he is expected to lend his experience in what is likely to be an otherwise-raw back four.
- Faizat Ghazali
The left-sided midfielder will be expected to shoulder more responsibility going forward with the departures of fellow attackers Maxius Musa and Ridzuan Abdunloh to greener pastures. His pace is a key asset in springing surprises against slower backlines in the league.
- Asri Mardzuki
Versatile in both defence and midfield, the 19-year-old will be looking to make a deeper impression after his 2013 season was interrupted early when he was called up to the A team’s training squad in Europe. His ability to play in multiple positions will provide Razip with various tactical options to change the match.
Gary's 2014 S.League Prediction: 11th