Maloney impressed by new faces vying for SEA games debut

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Brad Maloney’s national under-23 (B-23) football players undergoing a training session ahead of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, at the PKNS FC Sports Complex, Petaling Jaya, April 30, 2022. — Bernama pic
Brad Maloney’s national under-23 (B-23) football players undergoing a training session ahead of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, at the PKNS FC Sports Complex, Petaling Jaya, April 30, 2022. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, April 30 — National Under-23 football team head coach Brad Maloney has hinted that a few new faces may get a chance to make their debut in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam next month.

The Australian said some of them had been impressive during centralised training and in the 2-1 loss to their Timor-Leste counterparts in a friendly last night.

“I think there’s definitely a couple of players showing merit and can contribute to the team. It is good to see good combinations between some of the new ones and some of the other players we had before.

“Not exactly (finalised the selections)… some players are probably more advanced than others, but we won’t shut the door yet. We want to give every player every opportunity,” he told Bernama when met at the PKNS Sports Complex here, tonight.

He said the coaching team will continue to monitor and assess the players and, probably, finalise the 20-member squad after their second friendly against the Philippines tomorrow night.

Maloney, who now has about 30 players in the team, said he was not worried about their fitness levels as “they play regularly for their clubs”.

However, he admitted that some of the players have reported minor complaints, such as knocks and bruises.

Meanwhile, midfielder Nik Akif Syahiran Nik Mat, who is eyeing a second SEA Games appearance, said he plans to put his experience to good use and prove his mettle in Hanoi, if selected.

“I will give my 100 per cent for Malaysia and prove my capability to the coach. I also hope that the experience gained from playing in the Malaysia League would hold me in good stead at the SEA Games,” the Terengganu FC player said.

Six-time SEA Games champions Malaysia, who have been drawn in Group B, are set to leave for Hanoi on Wednesday (May 4).

Malaysia will face 16-time champions Thailand on May 7, followed by Laos (May 11), Singapore (May 14) and Cambodia (May 16) at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh.

Only the top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals. — Bernama