PETALING JAYA: All it took was a memorable 20-minute display against Laos in the Cambodia SEA Games to convince national coach Kim Pan-gon to pick young midfielder Syahir Bashah for the Harimau Malaya squad.
The 21-year-old was the only new face in the South Korean’s 27-men squad for the upcoming friendlies against Solomon Islands (June 14) and Papua New Guinea (June 20) at the Sultan Mizan Stadium in Gong Badak.
In Phnom Penh last month, the Selangor playmaker came on as a substitute for Aiman Afif Mf Afizul in the 70th minute during the group match with Laos.
Syahir made a huge impact, impressing with his touches and movements which constantly spelled danger for the opposition.
He even went on to score a beauty in the 75th minute, and also provided two assists in Malaysia’s 5-1 win.
Syahir, fondly known as Cahir among his teammates, was surprised by the call-up.
“For any player, it’s an honour to don the national jersey and this is my first time in the senior team, so there is much excitement. My loved ones and teammates are cheering me on,” he said.
“Actually, I’m surprised to be picked as I’ve only played in two FA Cup games for Selangor.
“Maybe the coach selected me due to my performance in the SEA Games. He was there to watch the Malaysian Under-22 team and I guess he saw my potential.
“I hope I can use this opportunity well.”
Pan-gon has retained 17 of the 27 players who were called up for the previous centralised training camp in Johor Baru, Johor, in March 2023.
Harimau Malaya captain and centreback Dion Cools could not join the camp this time as he is getting married.
Five players from the AFF Cup squad have been recalled - winger Safawi Rasid, midfielder Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi, striker Haqimi Azim Rosli, rightback Azam Azmi Murad and playmaker Lee Tuck.
Midfielder Natxo Insa, centreback Junior Eldstal and striker Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi and goalkeeper Azri Ghani have also regained their spots.