PETALING JAYA: The national Under-23 football squad preparing for the SEA Games in Manila next month returned home from the Agribank Cup tournament in Vietnam humiliated, having lost all their matches without scoring a goal in the four-team round-robin competition.
In their last match of the tournament at the My Dinh Stadiun in Hanoi on Sunday, the Malaysians conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 to their Under-23 side from Thailand. Earlier, they fell to their Vietnamese counterparts (0-1) and the Japanese Under-20 team (0-4).
Norizan Bakar, who replaced Hungarian Bertalan Bicskei as coach of the team following their dismal outing in the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Under-23 tournament in September, will have plenty of work to do, including to sharpen the attack, ahead of the SEA Games.
Among the strikers in the team are Amir Shahreen Mubin, Rudie Ramli, R. Surendran, Nor Farhan Mohd, Badrul Azam Mohd, Mohd Nor Ismail and Azlan Ismail.
Last month, the team played three friendly matches during their tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were beaten by Al-Wasli Sports Club (1-4) and Al-Ahly (0-2) and Dubai Sports Club (2-4). Prior to the matches in Dubai, they drew 2-2 with Malacca Selection.
The prospects of Norizan whipping up a side good enough to regain the SEA Games title, which was last won in 1989, do not look good.
Under Bicskei, Malaysia finished fourth in the AFF Under-23 tournament. In the group stage, Malaysia received a walkover from Timor Leste, drew 1-1 with Myanmar and beat minnows the Philippines 2-1.
In the semi-finals, Malaysia slumped to a humiliating 0-7 defeat by Thailand. In the playoff for third place, they were beaten 2-4 on penalties by Myanmar after a 1-1 deadlock.
The FA of Malaysia's (FAM) technical committee have reassigned Bicskei and his assistant, Jozef Durjah, to development duties.
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.