By Aysha Ridzuan from Australia
Malaysians fans have been up in arms with regards to national team coach K. Rajagobal's decision to exclude Kelantan captain Badhri, affectionately known to his fans as 'Piya', for the upcoming 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers.
However, the 30-year-old creative midfielder did pull on the Harimau Malaya jersey once as part of a Malaysia XI that took on Barclays Premier League giants Chelsea in a friendly back in 2011, and Ong, who was in charge of that game, recounts with FOXSPORTS.my his decision to give Badhri a chance.
"During that period, the national team was having our FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Singapore." said Ong.
"We aimed for glory, even though we were up against Chelsea but I was limited to the Harimau Muda players as well as those not picked for the national squad."
"I opted for experienced players to guide the younger ones and chose Hairuddin Omar, Badhri Radzi and Shahrulnizam Mustapa amongst others.
"The combination of youth and experience worked well although we lost 1-0 to Chelsea [Didier Drogba scored the match-winning free-kick in the 79th minute].
"Piya was outstanding, just look at his personality in terms of playing. He is always giving his maximum from the first till the last minute of the game.
When asked whether Badhri was now too old to make an impact on the international stage, Ong said candidly: "Age doesn't matter as long as you have your priorities right. Piya can play anywhere in midfield and he does it well.
"The only reason why people question his leadership is because he can't converse well in English. It's not a problem in Malaysia and he has led the Kelantan side to many trophies."
Ong, who will be attempt to complete a hat-trick of gold medals at the year-end Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, was also asked whether he could recall any player turning down the chance to represent his country.
"Never," he said. "I still remember the day I was called up after the Olympics for the Asian Cup qualifiers - it was a proud day for me."
Badhri was a key member of the Red Warriors side that won the treble of the Malaysia Super League, Malaysia Cup and FA Cup last season.