Orang Asli gets call-up


By ERIC SAMUEL

PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan’s rookie rightback Yosri Derma Raju has received a surprise call-up to join the national senior team’s preparations for the pre-Asian Cup football tournament, which will be held in October. 

The 21-year-old Orang Asli from Bahau is the newcomer in a 25-member training squad named by team manager Datuk Ibrahim Saad yesterday. 

Ibrahim said that the squad were a combination of players, who coach Allan Harris had selected for various tournaments. 

“All are familiar faces and even Yosri, who is a member of the pre-Olympic (national Under-22) squad. But this is the first senior call-up for Yosri. We have a balanced set of players in this national senior training squad,” said Ibrahim. 

BREAKTHROUGH:Yosri Derma Raju (right)taking a shot during a practice session with the national pre-Olympic squad last month.The Orang Asli player was called up to join the senior team yesterday.

Yosri has moved up to the senior ranks in double quick time. He was in the national Under-21 team who played in an international youth tournament here, involving Brazil, Portugal and South Korea in March. Last month, he was drafted into the pre-Olympic squad. 

Harris is in charge of both the pre-Olympic and senior national teams. 

Malaysia are through to the Asian final rounds of the pre-Olympic tournament involving 12 teams. It will be played in March next year. 

In the pre-Asian Cup, Malaysia are in Group F with Bahrain, Iraq and Myanmar. 

There are nine players from the pre-Olympic squad in the senior team. Another nine played in the Asean Football Federation’s (AFF) Under-23 Tiger Cup tournament in Singapore last December while the rest are senior players. 

The notable absentees are the Perak duo of Ahmad Shahrul Azahar and Mohamed Khalid Jamlus, who also did not feature in the Tiger Cup. 

Former national skipper Ahmad Shahrul had asked to left out of the Tiger Cup because he felt that he was not in good physical and mental condition. Striker Khalid had a rift with Harris during a playing tour of Dubai and was dropped from the team. 

Harris has gone home to England for holidays and is scheduled to return here in a day or two before the team check in for the first phase of centralised training on June 18. 

Ibrahim said that the players would go on a four-match playing tour of the Czech Republic from June 24-July 4 before competing in the FAPL Asia Cup, which will be played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil from July 24-27. The tournament features Chelsea, Newcastle and Birmingham. 

He added that the final phase of centralised training would begin on Sept 3. 

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