Malaysia name strong squad for friendlies

Malaysia coach K. Rajagopal has named a near full-strength squad for his side's upcoming friendlies against the Philippines and Singapore.

Safee Sali celebrates with his teammates

By staff

In what will likely be viewed by many as a statement of intent from the Tigers, especially just six months before they bid to defend the AFF Suzuki Cup, Rajagopal has plumped for several of the players that won him the title back in 2010.

His 26-man selection also contrasts markedly from the teams he put out in previous friendlies, where he went for a mixture of seasoned campaigners and untried youngsters.

And Rajagopal admits he has one eye of the upcoming regional tournament that kicks off on November 24.

"This is a gradual build-up towards the Suzuki Cup in November," he told The Star.

Ten of the starting XI that beat Indonesia in the two-legged final two years ago are in line take on the Philippines on June 1 and Singapore on June 8 and 12, with Terengganu centre-back Muslim Ahmad the only player missing.

These include captain Safiq Rahim, speed merchant S. Kunanlan and star striker Safee Sali, who is currently plying his trade in Indonesia with Pelita Jaya.

There were also places for several up-and-coming players, including Terengganu defender Faizal Muhammad, Negri Sembilan marksman Ahmad Shakir and Harimau Muda A winger Wan Zack Haikal.

Malaysia squad to play the Philippines (June 1) and Singapore (June 8 and 12)

Goalkeepers: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan), Sharbinee Allawee Ramli (Terengganu), Farizal Marlias (Negri Sembilan)

Defenders: Amirizwan Taj Tajuddin, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak (both ATM), Mahali Jasuli, Fadhli Shas (both Harimau Muda A), Asraruddin Putra Omar, Bunyamin Umar (both Selangor), Faizal Muhammad (Terengganu), Sabre Mat Abu (Kedah), S. Subramaniam (Kelantan)

Midfielders: Mohd Shakir Shaari, S. Chanturu (both Kelantan), K. Gurusamy, Safiq Rahim (both Selangor), Shahurain Abu Samah, S. Kunanlan (both Negri Sembilan), Amar Rohidan (Kedah), Wan Zack Haikal (Harimau Muda A), Asha'ri Samsuddin (Terengganu)

Forwards: Ahmad Shakir (Negri Sembilan), Safee Sali (Pelita Jaya), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan), Khyril Muhymeen (Kedah), Mohd Faiz Subri (T-Team)

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