Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (left) postponed his umrah and rejoined the national team on Thursday. - GLENN GUAN / The Star
PETALING JAYA: Interim national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee can’t decide whether striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha should be in the starting XI for the friendly against the Philippines national team at the Selayang Stadium on Saturday night.
The Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) forward had on Feb 19 withdrawn from the national camp at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya to go to Mecca to perform the umrah. Norshahrul, however, has since postponed his umrah and rejoined the national team on Thursday. The striker was slapped with a RM5,000 fine for his tardiness.
Kim Swee said Norshahrul’s return will not disrupt his game plan for the match and added that it’s good to have him back. However, his tardiness comes with a price.
“Norshahrul put off his umrah to join the national training camp and it shows his commitment to the national team,” said Kim Swee at the pre-match press conference held at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya, on Friday.
“He’s a good player and a welcome addition to the team. I intend to use him but I am no sure whether he will be in the starting line-up.
“We want a good result from this match after the hard work in training. The Philippines have improved a lot, just look at their world ranking (No. 127) now, but we will go out for a win against them.”
The friendly will be Malaysia’s last warm-up before they wrap up their Asian Cup qualifier Group D campaign against Yemen in UAE on March 5, The Philippines, meanwhile, will be using the match to prepare for their 2014 AFC Challenge Cup campaign from May 19-30.
Kim Swee and the Philippines head coach Thomas Dooley agreed that a good result would be a positive build-up towards their respective campaigns.
This friendly game will also be both coaches’ first assignment with their respective teams.
The 52-year-old Dooley, who was appointed as the head coach on Feb 7, admitted that he only had a few training sessions with team.
“We have a unique situation where our overseas-based players are not released,” said Dooley.
“I believe the players are smart enough to understand my football philosophy. I want a good performance from them but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to win the match.”