PETALING JAYA: Four preparatory matches in Dubai and the Agro Bank Cup in Hanoi. That's all coach Norizan Bakar has to whip the Under-23 squad into shape before the SEA Games football competition in Manila next month.
The former Penang coach, a replacement for national coach Bertalan Bicskei at the 11th hour has to make do with the two stints to re-organise the side, who suffered a 7-0 drubbing by Thailand in the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Under-23 tournament in Bangkok last month.
The Hungarian was relieved off his duties after the match.
“It is obvious that this is not the ideal preparation but to say anything more at this juncture would only be seen as a ready excuse,” said Norizan.
“So, it is best we looked forward and in a positive way. There is a lot of work to be done and we can only hope for the best,” added the coach who saw the boys in action for the first time against the Malacca Selection in a friendly match at the Stadium Hang Jebat in Malacca on Sept 25.
The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
The playing tour of Dubai is scheduled for Oct 7-19 while the Agro Bank Cup will be the final test for Norizan before finalising his team to Manila.
The boys will be playing against the Vietnam Under-23 (Oct 26), Japan Under-20 (Oct 28) and Thailand Under-23 (Oct 30) sides.
Among those players who have been left out from Norizan's squad are strikers Mohd Haris Safwan Kamal (Selangor) and Mohd Safee Sali (KL) as well as winger Ahmad Fauzi Saari (Kedah) who is injured.
The new inclusions are Terengganu’s talented youngster Mohd Nor Farhan Mohamad and three players from Malacca Telekom – Badrul Azam Zamri, Munir Amran and Tengku Hasbullah Raja Hassan.
Norizan has a tall order to bring back the gold medal from the SEA Games, which the national senior team last won in 1989.
Since, then, their best ever showing was under Englishman Allan Harris, who led the Under-23 squad to the silver in 2001 (K. Lumpur) and the bronze in 2003 (Vietnam).
Goalkeepers: Saiful Amar Sudar, Mohd Al-Hafiz Hamzah , Mohd Remezey Che Ros
Defenders: V. Thirumurugan, K. Lingam, Ahmad Azlan Zainal, S. Sathiakumaran, Ronny Harun, Sumardi Hajalan, Azi Shahril Azmi, Mohd Aslam Najamuddin
Midfielders: Mohd Fadzli Shaari, Zairo Anuar Zalani, Tengku Hasbullah Raja Hassan, Mohd Munir Amran, Mat Saiful Mohd, Harizul Izwan Rani, Mohd Zulkifli Yusof
Forwards: R. Surendran, Rudie Ramli, Azlan Ismail, Nor Farhan Mohd, Badrul Azam Mohd, Mohd Nor Ismail, Amir Shahreen Mubin