By Gabriel Tan
Harimau Muda will most of this year preparing for December's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar, where they will be looking to defend the gold medal they won two years ago.
Ong's young charges, who will be based in the state of Queensland, will meet three Australian Premier League clubs - Palm Beach Sharks, Sunshine Coast Fire and Olympic FC - starting January 26, before taking on reigning Hyundai A-League premiers Brisbane Roar on February 5.
Although the Malacca native will have to do without a number of key players who have been called up for international duty with the senior side, including Wan Zack Haikal, Fadhli Shas and Gary Robbat, Ong believes this will give a number of new faces a chance to shine and stake their claim for a place in his SEA Games squad.
"The trip is an early preparation for us to defend our SEA Games gold medal at the end of this year," he told ESPNSTAR.com. "We will train there for 10 days and play four friendly matches.
"We will be without six key players - Wan Zack, Gary, Fadhil, Zubir [Azmi], Nik Shahrul [Azim] and K. Reuben - who have been called up to the national team for the AFC Asian Cup qualifier.
"But this will be good for our eight new players who will have a chance to play at a higher level. We have also included a player from Negri Sembilan and Sime Darby each - both are ex-Harimau Muda players and we'll be monitoring their progress."
Ong also revealed a friendly with Myanmar had been arranged at the end of February, before his side travel to Europe where they will be based for five months.
"After we come back from Australia, we will have a break for four days for Chinese New Year," he added. "Then, we will fly to Myanmar to play a friendly match with the Myanmar national team on February 22.
"We will return to Malaysia for a few friendly matches after that before heading to Europe for a five-month training stint."
Malaysia U-23 Australia Tour schedule
January 26 - vs Palm Beach Sharks
January 29 - vs Sunshine Coast Fire
February 2 - vs Olympic FC
February 5 - vs Brisbane Roar