Malaysia U23 coach Ong Kim Swee faces Asian Games football dilemma

Nicolas Anil Nicolas Anil

Malaysia U-23 coach Ong Kim Swee is facing a selection dilemma for the upcoming Asian Games to be held in Indonesia in August.

Malaysia Under-23 head coach Ong Kim Swee could be facing a deja vu situation like last year, as he prepares his team to compete at the Asian Games football tournament in Indonesia.

The football competition at the multi-sport event will commence from August 14 to September 1, which is the same time the Malaysia Cup is scheduled to start.

What would be a major headache for Ong is if the competing clubs refused to release their players for the tournament.

“I had planned to have the national centralised training in early August, which is roughly 10 days before we depart to Indonesia. What is worrying is if the players do not get released by their clubs,” Ong told Harian Metro.

The national development coach had faced a similar situation last year when he was preparing his team to the AFC U23 qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand last July.

At one stage, only six players showed up for centralised training.

Despite all odds, Ong steered the team to the finals of the tournament this year and took them as far as the quarterfinals.

But he faces the same dilemma almost a year on.

As the Asian Games football tournament does not fall under the FIFA calendar, clubs are not obliged to release their players for international duty.

“If I can get 10 days with the players,that should suffice. There won’t be any fitness issues because players are reporting for duty with competitive matches ongoing,” added Ong.

“I will discuss this with the Football Association of Malaysia next week and I hope we get the cooperation of all parties.”

The Malaysians are hoping to build on their gallant run at the AFC U23 tournament to stir a few upsets in this age group tournament.

The Malaysia Cup format had also been re-jigged by the Malaysia Football League.

In the past few seasons, the tournament was held simultaneously with the Malaysia Super League.