Despite his tender age of 17, the left winger is one of the lynchpins in Brad Maloney’s squad.
Umar was instrumental in the 2020 AFC Under-19 Championship qualifying tournament last year where Malaysia won all their Group G matches. They beat Cambodia (5-4), Northern Mariana Islands (10-0), Brunei (11-0) and Thailand (1-0) to qualify.
During the first phase of the camp which ended yesterday, the player, despite a niggling groin injury, shone in the company of older players.
“I’m definitely more mature now. Half of the players called up have had first-team experience with their clubs, which is good for a player’s development,” said the former Mokhtar Dahari Academy player.
“I think we all have got more mature, you can see the difference in our game play.
“There’s a lot of new players now but there is no awkwardness. We accept each other and we know we are here because of our abilities.
“On the pitch, we fight to get noticed. Off it, we are buddies. The first phase has been good and I know that I cannot rest on my laurels. There are other good players who have yet to join the squad.”
Stalwarts from the qualifiers like goalkeepers Firdaus Irman Mohd Fadhil and Sikh Izhan Nazrel Sikh Azman, defenders Azrin Afiq Rusmini and Harith Haiqal Adam Afkar, midfielder Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi and strikers Luqman Hakim Shamsudin and Ahmad Zikri Mohd Khalili are not in the first phase.
Umar said when these players return, competition is bound to get tougher before the final phase of training in September.
“Being part of the qualifiers does not mean I’m guaranteed a spot to the Finals in Uzbekistan. In JDT II, I’m surrounded by experienced players.
“So training with them has been a valuable lesson and this is what I bring to the Under-19 team. I hope it’s enough to win a place.”
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