By Gabriel Tan
The Young Tigers are currently in Queensland as part of their preparation for the year-end Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, where they will be looking to defend the gold medal they won back in 2011.
Ong's charges open their tour on Saturday against Palm Beach Sharks, one of three Australian Premier League (APL) Queensland Conference outfits they will meet before facing reigning A-League premiers Brisbane Roar, but are without six key players in Fadhli Shas, Wan Zack Haikal, Gary Robbat, Nik Shahrul Azim, Zubir Azmi and K. Reuben.
However, their 42-year-old coach believes this will allow some of the newer players in the squad to prove their worth and stake their claim for a place in his SEA Games squad come December.
"[Saturday's] game against Palm Beach Sharks is the start of the test for our new players," he told ESPNSTAR.com. "But, of course, they still need time.
"I hope they will use this chance to gain more experience and prove themselves that they can compete at a higher level.
"It is very important that the new players gel well with the team for us to have good depth, in case of injuries or suspensions in the future."
Given Australian sides are well known for their physical and tenacious approach, Ong believes it will provide a good test for youngsters like Ariff Farhan and Adam Nor Azlin, both of whom are only 17.
"Results are not my main concern for this tour," he added.
"I expect that we will have aggressive games against the local teams. It is more important to see the players' desire and discipline against a tough opponent on this trip."
Following Saturday's game, Malaysia U-23 are next in action next Tuesday when they take on Sunshine Coast Fire.