Ong to give new boys chance to shine

Malaysia Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee has vowed to give all his players a chance to shine in the upcoming Youth Newspaper Cup.

Malaysia U21 training session

By Gabriel Tan

Ong, who is also in charge of Great Eastern-YEO's S.League outfit Harimau Muda, is currently in Vietnam with a U-21 team competing in the Newspaper Cup, which also involves youth sides from Singapore, Thailand, Laos, the Vietnam Youth Newspaper Team and Hyundai A-League side Sydney FC.

Given a significant number of his Harimau Muda players are ineligible for the tournament due to their age, the ex-Malaysia international has used this as a chance to call up a number of up-and-coming youngsters, including ATM's Syazuan Hazani.

Ong has not only promised to give each individual a chance to impress in the tournament, but is will also consider drafting them into his Harimau Muda squad should they show the necessary quality.

"They were called up and will be given a chance and it is up to them to make full use of this opportunity," he told exclusively.

"If they perform well in this tournament, I will probably consider them for Harimau Muda next season."

Malaysia get their campaign underway against Laos on Saturday and while they are favourites to win, their coach believes their opponents have what it takes to give them a good fight.

"Laos' strength is the players' individual skills and also their speed," Ong added. "We have to be careful with their counterattacks.

"The pitch looked good during our training yesterday [Friday] and if the weather is good and the pitch stays that way, we will have a good game against Laos today [Saturday].

"I hope the players can fit in well even though we had a short training session yesterday [Friday]."

Syazuan, who is likely to be involved against the Laotians, is hoping to do his best for his country, although he admitted he remains undecided on whether he would accept the opportunity to play for Harimau Muda.

"I was excited to be called up to the team and I hope I can contribute and help us get the three points, as well as qualify for the semi-finals," he said.

"I would be happy if I got an offer [to play for Harimau Muda] but it's still something I would have to think about. I am still with ATM and my heart is there.

"I hope to gain more experience with ATM first and then maybe fight for a place in Harimau Muda in the future."

Saturday's other game will see Singapore take on the Vietnam Youth Newspaper Team.

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