Shock as JDT trio absent from Malaysia’s Suzuki Cup squad

Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee stunned football followers after excluding Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) trio Izham Tarmizi Roslan, Fazly Mazlan and Azrif Nasrulhaq from his provisional AFF Suzuki Cup squad, which was announced on Friday.

Expected to play starting roles for Malaysia at next month’s tournament, all three were missing from the provisional 26-man squad, which will be cut to 23 before the competition starts.

Izham, Fazly and Azrif were just about everyone’s pick for a starting place at the regional tournament after being among the few positives in the Malaysian camp in recent months.

The decision adds to the international retirements in July this by JDT standouts Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, S. Kunanlan and Amirul Hadi Zainal had.

All the Southern Tigers could be replaced if JDT refuse to allow them to join the national team earlier than the four days stipulated by FIFA

The only JDT players included in the squad are reserves Amri Yahyah, Safee Sali and Fadhli Shas. Amri was named as Safiq’s replacement for the Tigers’ armband, but it remains to be seen if he can command a starting role.

Among the other JDT players that could have strengthened Malaysia’s weak midfield included Junior Eldstal, S. Chanthuru and Gary Steven Robbat, but none were named.

JDT II’s Irfan Fazail, Zaquan Abdul Radzak and Darren Lok were also included in the squad, but all of the Southern Tigers could be replaced if JDT still insist on refusing to allow them to join the national team earlier than the four days stipulated by FIFA.

The club refused to allow its players to report early for national duty ahead of the Tigers’ friendly matches against Singapore and Afghanistan this month.

JDT and JDT II players have been asked to report to the national team on Tuesday, while those from Malaysia Cup finalists Selangor and Kedah are required the following week.

The other absentees from the 30-man squad Ong had named in the last call-up are Fakrul Aiman Sidid, Abdul Latiff Suhaimi, Adam Nor Azlin and Fazrul Hazli Kadri.

Malaysia are scheduled to undergo a three-day camp in Port Dickson and take on Papua New Guinea on November 14 before their Suzuki Cup opener against likely qualifiers Cambodia on November 20. Myanmar and Vietnam are the other teams in the group.

The Squad
: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Khairul Azhan Khalid, Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy
Defenders: Shahrul Saad, Nazirul Naim, Fadhli Shas, Ronny Harun, Matthew Davies, Ahmad Khuzaimi Piee, Khairul Helmi Johari, Shahrom Kalam
Midfielders: Nasir Basaruddin, Irfan Fazail, Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak, Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Hadin Azman, Safawi Rasid, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Rizal Ghazali, Syazwan Zainon, S. Veenod
Forwards: Darren Lok, Amri Yahyah, Safee Sali, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha