PETALING JAYA: Skipper Adib Zainudin is confident that the national Under-23’s backline will withstand the test at the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers which begin in Bangkok tomorrow.
In the friendly against the Myanmar Under-22 side at the Shah Alam Stadium last week, coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee again deployed the 3-4-3 formation. The three-man backline did a good job by shutting out the Myanmar attack to secure a confidence-booting 2-0 win.
Adib was deployed on the right side of the back three with Irfan Zakaria and Adam Nor Azlin. They also played together in Malaysia’s tour of China last month.
“The understanding between the defenders has improved a lot. I think we can do better when we start our qualifying campaign in Bangkok. We managed to keep a clean sheet against Myanmar but the coach told us we did make some mistakes,” said Adib before leaving to Bangkok yesterday.
“We were too cautious and slow in moving the ball out of danger. It’s good to know our mistakes early as we still have time to rectify the problem in training.”
Malaysia will open their Group H campaign against Indonesia tomorrow before facing hosts Thailand (July 21) and Mongolia (July 23). The group winners will automatically qualify for next year’s Finals in China.
Kim Swee is also using the qualifiers to prepare for the gold assault at next month’s Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
For Felcra FC centreback Adib, he wants Malaysia to make a flying start with a win over Indonesia.
“We have a slightly better chance of beating Indonesia. We need to gain all three points to gain confidence for our next clash against Thailand. It’s a tough match as the Thais are the favourites. And they also enjoy home advantage,” said Adib.
Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim (Ked),
Amierul Hakimi Awang (Ter), Ahmad Solehin Mamat
Ariff Farhan Md Isa (Ked), Syahmi
Safari, Adam Nor Azlin (Sel), Adib Zainudin (Felcra),
Syazwan Andik Ishak (JDT II), Syazwan Zaipol Bahari
(PKNP), Mohamad Raphi Azizan Mariappen (PJ
Rangers), L. Kalaiharasan, Fauzan Fauzi (Nse), Irfan
Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Muhd
Akhyar Abdul Rashid (Ked), Danial Amier Norhisham
(Felda), Nur Shamie Iszuan Amin (Swk).
Syafiq Ahmad (Ked), Jafri Firdaus Chew
(Pen), Danial Ashraf Abdullah (Kel), N. Thanabalan
(Felcra), Sean Eugene Selvaraj (Nse).