Wednesday, 15 January 2014 | MYT 8:09 PM
Prove yourself or lose your place: Kim Swee
A file picture of Ahmad Hazwan Bakri (right). He is one of six players who have left the Harimau Muda A set-up to take up lucrative offers from M-League teams.
PETALING JAYA: The six players who have left the Harimau Muda A set-up to take up more lucrative offers from M-League teams will have to prove their worth if they hope to play for Malaysia in the September Asian Games in Incheon.
National Under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has warned the six – Mohd Irfan Fazail, Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, Mohd Fadli Shas, Mohd Izham Tarmizi Roslan, A. Thamil Arasu and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri – that they must play regularly for their respective teams or face the prospect of missing out on the Games, which is restricted to Under-23 players plus three senior players.
National Under-23 skipper Irfan, defender Fadhli and goalkeeper Izham have joined cash-rich Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT). Strikers Thamil and Hazwan Bakri have signed for Selangor and winger Wan Zaharulnizam will be plying his trade with Kelantan.
Past record shows that players who left the Harimau Muda A set-up prematurely have struggled to break back into the national Under-23 squad.
The six, especially those who signed with JDT and Selangor, are expected to struggle to break into the starting line-up as both teams have signed quality foreign players who play in their position.
“I wish I could have Thamil and Irfan for one more year to develop them for the Asian Games but they have received lucrative deals and I can’t stop them,” said Kim Swee.
“There’s a long history of players leaving the Harimau Muda set-up and failing to live up the expectations. This is one thing that we have to rectify.
“However, I will only pick players who play regularly for their teams for the Asiad. I have made this clear to the players who have left, so I hope they will work hard to be regulars in their respective teams.”
The Harimau Muda A team will be playing in the Queensland State League in March as part of their preparations for the Asiad and the 43-year-old Kim Swee wants to have better gauge of the players available for the Asiad.
“It’s a big worry for me as we have a small pool of Under-23 players in the country. I hope the current players from the Harimau Muda A squad will be able to step up and prove themselves worthy of playing in the Asian Games,” said Kim Swee.