By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
Ong is currently getting his charges ready for the end-of-year Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar, where they will be looking to defend the gold medal they won two years ago.
Plenty of deliberation has taken place over the details of Harimau Muda's preparations and it was eventually deemed that a prolonged period in Europe would be best for the side, as compared to playing in the 2013 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League, where they have since been replaced by Razip Ismail's U-19 side.
The U-23s are currently flying to Slovakia, where they will be spending the next five months training and playing a total of nine friendlies, including current Corgon Liga champions MSK Zilina, Czech giants Slavia Prague and Ujpest FC, one of Hungary's most-successful sides.
They will also take on the Slovakia U-19 side, who are currently looking to qualify for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Lithuania, and Ong hopes the standard of their opponents will help him fine-tune his tactics ahead of the SEA Games.
"We have reached an agreement with the agent who arranged our games in Europe," the ex-Malaysia international revealed. "The teams we play must field at least 80% of the players from their first eleven.
"My primary aim is to identify our weaknesses and find the right combination in the team. We will also try out the systems that we will use - in attack, defence and combination and transition from defence to attack"
Harimau Muda will return to Malaysia in August for the festival of Hari Raya, before playing in two more tournaments - Universiade 2013 in Russia and the Merdeka Tournament.
Ong believes his side face a more difficult test to win gold at the SEA Games this year than in 2011, but believes the task is very much an achievable one.
"This year will be tougher for us because we want to defend our third gold medal," he added. "We have to take the pressure positively and, at the same time, get to know our opponents well.
"I believe with proper planning we can win the gold."
The Malacca native also confirmed several players not touring with the side remain in contention for selection, including Kelantan's Nik Shahrul Azim, Terengganu left-back Zubir Azmi and K. Reuben of ATM.
"We would have brought along Zubir Azmi, Nik Shahrul and K. Reuben but their teams need them in the [Malaysia Super] League," Ong explained.
"Still, we will continue to monitor them and they will most likely join up with us in September."
Some of the more famous names that will be part of Harimau Muda's travelling party include centre-back Fadhli Shas, midfield general Gary Robbat and forward Rozaimi Abdul Rahman.
Malaysia U-23's opposition in Eastern Europe
Currently looking to qualify for the 2013 UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Lithuania
Slovak giants, reigning Corgon Liga champions
Slovak side, 6th in Corgon Liga in 2011/12 season
Slovak side, 5th in Corgon Liga in 2011/12 season
Slovak side, Champions of Slovakian 2. Liga in 2011/12 (Promoted to Corgon Liga)
Slovak side, 4th in Corgon Liga in 2011/12 season
FC ViOn Zlate Moravce
Slovak side, 7th in Corgon Liga in 2011/12 season
One of Hungary’s most-successful sides, 13th in OTP Bank Liga in 2011/12
Czech giants, 12th in Gambrinus Liga in 2011/12