Datuk Ong Kim Swee (centre) says the squad will leave for Brisbane on Wednesday and will be based in the Gold Coast.
PETALING JAYA: Harimau Muda A coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee will name his team for the Queensland Premier League on Tuesday.
The 14-team Queensland League kicked off on Saturday but the Malaysian boys will only open their campaign against Moreton Bay Jets on Saturday. The six-month competition is to prepare the national Under-23 squad for the Incheon Asian Games in September.
The 43-year-old Kim Swee will be assisted in Australia by coaching staff Rusdi Suparman (assistant), Yong Wai Hwang (goalkeeper trainer) and Rastislav Bozik (fitness trainer).
Kim Swee, who is also the national senior team’s interim coach, said the squad will leave for Brisbane on Wednesday and will be based in the Gold Coast.
“I have finalised the list of players to Australia but I will only announce the names on Tuesday because of my commitment with the senior team,” said Kim Swee, who is tasked with coaching the national senior team for the final Asian Cup qualifier Group D match against Yemen on Wednesday.
The Harimau Muda A boys’ inclusion in the second-tier of the Australian football league at the cost of RM4.2mil has drawn brickbats from critics.
South East Queensland news website Brisbane Times had speculated the inclusion of Harimau Muda A squad would generate more interest from Asian betting syndicates, thus increasing the possibility of match-fixing in Australia.
Kim Swee stressed that the stint in Australia is vital for the newcomers as he has released nine players from the previous squad.
The Harimau Muda A squad lost a number of first choice players due to age and better offers, including skipper Mohd Irfan Fazail, defender Mohd Fadhli Mohd Shas, goalkeeper Mohd Izham Tarmizi Roslan and striker Izzaq Faris Ramlan.
“We will be without several regulars who will be replaced by newcomers ... it is a team rebuilding process all over again,” said the former international.
“People have criticised us for this stint in Australia but I need to expose a larger number of newcomers to a high-level competition before we play in the Asian Games.”
Last year, the Harimau Muda A squad were based in Slovakia for eight months as part of their preparations for the Myanmar SEA Games.
The team failed to retain the gold medal in the biennial Games, finishing fourth after losing to Singapore in the bronze-medal playoff.