PETALING JAYA: Selangor MPPJ forward Mohd Safwan Harris is hoping to secure a regular place in first 11 in the national team for the final rounds of the Asian Olympic qualifiers, which begin on March 4.
The currrent top picks in coach Allan Harris' national Under-23 side are Akmal Rizal Rakhli and Mohamed Fadzli Shaari.
Mohd Safwan was in the team for the Vietnam SEA Games last month but did not get to start in any of the matches played in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
He came in as a substitute in the group matches against Cambodia and Myanmar, which Malaysia won 8-1 and 3-2 respectively, and in the 2-3 semi-final defeat by Vietnam. But he did not score in any of the matches.
I am the third choice after Akmal and Fadzli. My aim is to secure a regular place in the first 11, said the 22-year-old Mohd Safwan.
I know it's going to be hard for me to make the breakthrough. I need to do something outstanding during training and in friendly matches to make it.
In the Olympic qualifiers, Malaysia are in Group A with Iran, China and South Korea.
Mohd Safwan is showing a lot maturity in his game after a first season with MPPJ last year. He scored 10 goals six in the Premier II and four in the Malaysia Cup competition.
In the season-opening Charity Shield match, he did not score in the 4-2 win over Negri Sembilan but played an influential role in the victory.
Mohd Safwan dribbled the past the Negri defence and passed the ball to Aiman Firdaus Tan to score MPPJ's fourth goal in the 60th minute.
Besides playing football, Mohd Safwan is among the handful of players who are pursuing tertiary education at the same time. He is a first-year student in Sports Science at the University Malaya.
The classes are held in the morning. Therefore I can concentrate on training with the team in the evening. After I get the degree, I wan to concentrate on a football career, he said.
Meanwhile, the MPPJ team left for a five-day holiday to Rome yesterday evening. It is the reward for winning the Malaysia Cup last season.
For winning the Charity Shield, the MPPJ president, Datuk Karim Munisar, said during a victory luncheon for the team at the MPPJ headquarters yesterday: We will give them a small reward.