PETALING JAYA: National football coach Allan Harris has retained the bulk of the Vietnam SEA Games squad to prepare for the Asian final rounds of the Olympic qualifiers, which begin in March.
The Englishman said that he was comfortable with the present set of boys, who had been with him since his first appointment as the coach of the national Under-19 squad in 1998.
“There is no need to make drastic changes. I know most of the boys and the new ones have to fight for their places,” said Harris, who will get cracking with the 25-player squad in the first phase of training, which will be held at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya from Feb 2-7.
Among the regulars in the team are strikers Akmal Rizal Rakhli, Mohamed Fadzli Shaari; midfielders Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Saiful Sabtu, K. Rajan, Rudie Ramli, Mohamed Amri Yahyah; defenders Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Marzuki Yusof, Aziz Ismail, Irwan Fadli Idrus, Redzuan Radzi; and goalkeeper Syamsuri Mustaffa.
The new faces are mostly those from the national Under-21 squad, who are being groomed for the Manila SEA Games next year.
They include strikers Mohamed Safee Sali, Zulkifli Affendi, Tengku Mohamed Adam Rosli; midfielder Tengku Alias Tengku Ibrahim; and goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Hafiz Hamzah.
Harris said that he arrange for at least two friendly games for the team during the second phase of training from Feb 23-29.
“The two matches will allow me to shortlist the final team,” said Harris.
Malaysia have been drawn in Group A with Asian giants Iran, China and South Korea.
They open their campaign against Iran at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya on March 4 before travelling to Beijing to play against China on March 20.
They play against South Korea at home on March 24 and away on April 14. Their return match against Iran is scheduled for April 30 before wrapping up their fixtures at home against China on May 12.
THE TRAINING SQUAD
Goalkeeper: Syamsuri Mustaffa (Ter), Faizal Rashid (Sel), Mohamed Al Hafiz Hamzah (Ked).
Defenders: Redzuan Radzi (Ked), Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Yosri Dermaraju (Nse), Abdul Aziz Ismail (Pen), Irwan Fadli Idrus (Pah), M. Ravinthiran (Prk), Ronny Harun (Sabah), Marzuki Yusof (Ter).
Midfielders: Saiful Sabtu (Nse), Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Pah), Mohamed Amri Yahyah, Rudie Ramli (Sel), Norizam Hassan, Tengku Alias Tengku Ibrahim (Ter), K. Rajan (Nse).
Strikers: Akmal Rizal Rakhli (Ked), Mohamed Safee Sali, Zulkifli Affendi (Kul), Mohamed Fadzli Shaari (Pah), R. Surendran (Prk), Mohamed Harris Safwan Kamal (MPPJ), Tengku Mohamed Tengku Adam Rosli (Ter).