PETALING JAYA, Nov 17 – Overdose of football plus injuries saw national football head coach Tan Cheng Hoe leaving out several big names from his initial training squad of 28 players for next month’s AFF Suzuki Cup tournament in Singapore.
Among those not in the list are Farizal Marlias (goalkeeper), Corbin Ong (left back), Matthew Davies (right back), Syamer Kutty Abba (midfielder) and rising striker Arif Aiman – all from eight-time Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT).
Cheng Hoe, however, is keeping faith with naturalized Malaysians – Gamba-born Mohamadou Sumareh and Brazilian-born Guilherme De Paula – both of whom are also with JDT for the Asean championships.
Corbin (right) not in the squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup

As usual, Cheng Hoe is once again flak on the social media for his choice of players. The former international, however, has got used to the ”bombardment” as he is aware that there are far too many football ”experts” in the game.

Cheng Hoe will only bring 24 players to Singapore. The first phase of training begins on Monday (Nov 22) for those whose clubs fail to make the Malaysia Cup semi-finals. Those whose clubs don’t make (Malaysia Cup) final will report on Nov 28. Players whose clubs will feature in the Malaysia Cup final will report on Dec 1.
The Harimau Malaya will leave for Singapore on Dec 3 and play their Group B matches at the Bishan Stadium. The other teams in group are defending champions Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.
”It’s not easy naming the squad. We (coaching panel) took everything into consideration before deciding in the training squad. There is bound to be unhappiness but the coaching panel had take all in its stride,” said Cheng Hoe.
”At the same time we have to take the future (playing career) of a player. Football is their livelihood and we don’t want a burnout. We took all this into consideration to come up with (training) squad.”
Even before the squad was named national football manager Datuk Yusoff Mahadi has put the pressure on Cheng Hoe and said Malaysia not only wants to reach the final but also wants to win the silverware.
It is an outrageous statement that rattled Cheng Hoe and his coaching and the players. Yusoff should be more careful with his statements that are made only for cheap publicity without deeper and technical knowledge of the game.
As reported by HubMedia earlier, National Under-23 goalkeeper Azri Ghani (pic) has been called up for the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The two other goals named are Khairul Fahmi Che Mat who has played an instrumental role in Melaka United reaching the Malaysia cup quarter-finals and Selangor FC’s Khairul Azhan Khalid.
Cheng Hoe has named a squad of youth and experience for the Asean meet and has retained the experienced Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, Shahrul Saad, Safawi Rashid, Rizal Ghazali, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Darren Lok and Shahrel Fikri.
Three players – goalkeeper Kallamullah Al-Hafiz (Petaling Jaya City FC),  defender Rodney Celvin (Kedah), striker Hakimi Abdullah (Terengganu FC) – have been put on the standby list.
The four foreign based players in the squad are Luqman Shamsuddin (KV Kortrjik), Dion Cools (FC Midtjylland) and Dominic Tan (Police Tero FC) and Junior Eldstal (Chonburi FC). The four will fly straight to Singapore from their respective clubs due to the pandemic quarantine if they return to Malaysia first.
Malaysia versus Cambodia (Dec 6)
Malaysia versus Laos (Dec 9)
Malaysia versus Vietnam (Dec 12)
Malaysia versus Indonesia (Dec 19)

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