Malaysia announced its final 20-man squad on Saturday ahead of next week’s SEA Games and their opening fixture on Monday against Brunei.
Coach Ong Kim Swee decided to leave out Amierul Hakimi, Ahmad Khairil Anuar, Azriddin Rosli, Danial Ashraf, Dominic Tan, Raphi Azizan, Sean Eugene, and Tommy Mawat from the final squad list.
Keeper Amierul, however, will stay with the squad during the tournament as teams are allowed to call up a back up goalkeeper in the event of injury.
The squad contains mostly the players that qualified for the AFC Under-23 Championship finals last month, but with six new names: Syamer Kutty, S. Kumaahran, Haziq Nadzli, Safawi Rasid, Matthew Davies and Nor Azam Azih.
Ong said it was hard deciding on which eight to leave out, but that he was happy with the overall state of the team.
“It is not an easy decision to make. This is my fourth games and this has been the toughest decision to make. But the boys will be back with the squad after the games,” he said.
“The first 3-4 days, I left out few players [from training]. Davies and Azam only did light training the past few days. I’ll try to rotate them from game to game. We have more depth this time and I will try to change it according to tactics,” Ong told a press conference.
Ong said that the team would not dwell on their encouraging performances in Bangkok at the recent AFC U23 qualifiers.
“Bangkok is the past. It was a good result there. Now we have to look forward. I believe the six players give us a good mixture and many benefits as a team. So, anybody can play,” added Ong.
Full squad list
Goalkeepers: Ifwat Akmal (Kedah), Haziq Nadzli (Johor Darul Ta’zim)
Defenders: Ariff Farhan (Kedah), Adib Zainudin (FELCRA FC), Adam Nor Azlin (Selangor), Matthew Davies (Pahang), Irfan Zakaria (Kuala Lumpur), Syazwan Zaipol (PKNP FC), Syazwan Andik (Johor Darul Ta’zim II)
Midfielders: Amirul Hisyam (Kedah), Syamer Kutty (Penang), S. Kumaahran (Penang), N. Thanabalan (FELCRA FC), Syahmi Safari (Selangor), Nor Azam Azih (Pahang), Danial Amer (Felda United)
Forwards: Syafiq Ahmad (Kedah), Akhyar Rashid (Kedah), Jafri Firdaus Chew (Penang), Safawi Rasid (Johor Darul Ta’zim)