PETALING JAYA: National Under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee will use the friendly match against Syria to choose his starting XI for the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship in Changshu, China, from Jan 9-27.
The friendly against the Syria Under-23 side will take place at the Jiangsu Training Centre Stadium in Nanjing on Friday and Kim Swee expects his players to impress.
It will also be Malaysia’s final match before they begin their AFC Under-23 campaign.
Malaysia are the only non-Middle Eastern country in Group C of the AFC Under-23 meet.
Kim Swee’s boys will open their campaign against Iraq on Jan 10 and Jordan (Jan 13) in Changshu before playing Saudi Arabia in Kunshan (Jan 16).
“The Syria game will give me the best idea on who to pick for the starting XI for the tournament proper,” said Kim Swee.
The 45-year-old Kim Swee said the friendly against Syria would also give him an insight on what to expect from the Middle Eastern teams.
“We’re focused on the tactical strategies. I want to see our team playing to their strengths against Syria.
“We need to win the ball more, especially in the middle and have better control of the game.”
The team arrived in Nanjing on Sunday after their 14-day training-cum-playing stint in Mokpo, South Korea, from Dec 17-30.
Kim Swee said the players were in good shape except for midfielder Nik Akif Syahiran Nik Mat, who is down with a fever.
“Nik Akif missed our first training session here today because of fever but it’s not a big problem,” he said.
“All the others are in good shape. The condition here is similar to South Korea, I don’t think the weather will be an issue for us.”