Cheng Hoe defends his choice of players for training camp

Contrasting form: Critics claim that Perak striker Guilherme De Paula (left) has not been at his best form in the Super League while Darren Lok (right) is showing promise. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Coach Tan Cheng Hoe is unperturbed by the questions raised over some players selected for the Harimau Malaya training camp next week.

The call-up of Perak striker Guilherme De Paula, JDT midfielders Daniel Amier Norhisham, Syamer Kutty Abba, Mohamadou Sumareh and Mohd Akhyar Rashid raised eyebrows as some feel they do not merit a spot based on current form.

Cheng Hoe has named 28 players and they will train at the home of Johor Darul Ta’zim.

Recently naturalised De Paula has not been at his best form in the Super League while the likes of Daniel, Syamer, Sumareh and Akhyar have not had regular games with their club.

Many felt that those on the standby list – goalkeeper Samuel Somerville (Penang), centreback Rodney Celvin Akwensivie (Kedah), leftback Arif Fadzilah Abu Bakar (Terengganu), centreback Shahrul Nizam Ros Hasni (Terengganu), winger S. Kumaahran (Melaka) and striker Darren Lok (PJ City) deserved a call-up.

But Cheng Hoe said he has his reasons for selecting the current set.“The fans have a right to debate about it. But I selected these players because I have worked with them before, ” said the 53-year-old.

“Yes, I know some of them have not turned out for their clubs but these players already know my system and tactics. I don’t have much time to try out the newcomers.”

When asked about De Paula, Cheng Hoe explained: “He has proven himself to be a top striker. As for his current form, I believe it is because of the change in Perak’s coaching set-up.

“We’ll give him a chance and see if he can work with the team. I hope he gives his all and after speaking to him, I believe he has the ambition to do something for us.”

Cheng Hoe asserted that he will still look at other players during the season and will call them up for the next training camp scheduled at the end of May.

The Harimau Malaya will resume their World Cup-Asian Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates on June 3 followed by matches against Vietnam (June 11) and Thailand (June 15).

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