PETALING JAYA: During his days at Petaling Jaya City, national Under-22 winger V. Ruventhiran used to talk about the SEA Games with K. Gurusamy and Mahali Jasuli.
Gurusamy and Mahali won the SEA Games gold medal twice in 2009 and 2011, and it was no surprise to see Ruventhiran asking about it and dreaming of playing on that stage.
And that dream is on the brink of becoming true as the Selangor player is part of the 25-men training squad for the SEA Games. It looks likely that he will be part of the final 20 thanks to his experience and guile on the wings.
“During my days with PJ City, Guru and Mahali taught me a lot of things and shared the time they won the gold medal twice. Hearing those stories, you wish you could have such an experience too.
“And I want to do that. If selected, the Cambodia SEA Games will be my first and last because, in the next edition, I will be overaged. So, I am looking forward to giving my all.
“I believe coach Ela will guide us well, and the boys are aiming for the final. We are in a tough group, but we have the belief to go all the way if we follow the structure and tactics set by the coaching staff.”
The 21-year-old had shown his worth for the Under-22 team when he helped them win the Merlion Cup last month in Singapore.
He is also one of the five senior internationls in the team and was always a fixture in Kim Pan-gon’s squad last year. To date, he has earned nine caps for Harimau Malaya.
The other players with national caps are midfielder Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi, goalkeeper Rahadiazli Rahalim, rightback Azam Azmin Murad and striker Haqimi Azim Rosli.
Ruventhiran said his first aim when he got into professional football was to play for the age-group international sides.
“Actually, when I made my professional debut for Petaling Jaya City two years ago, my aim was to play for the Under-23 team first. But, my first international foray was with Harimau Malaya, and I am glad to be given that trust,” said Ruventhiran.
It will be a tough challenge for the national Under-22 football squad to bring back the gold medal after they were drawn in the “Group of Death”.
Malaysia are in Group B with Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Laos.
The last time the national team won the men’s football gold medal was at the Indonesia SEA Games in 2011.
Malaysia’s last appearance in the men’s football final was when the country hosted the SEA Games in 2017. Then, Malaysia lost 0-1 to Thailand.