BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia forward Shahrel Fikri Fauzi is now free from injury, having suffered an injury scare last month, in their 4-1 friendly win against Sri Lanka.
The hip injury meant he then had to miss their friendly encounter against Kyrgyz Republic just a few days later, a match that ended in a 1-0 defeat to the Harimau Malaya.
But when met in training earlier this week, Shahrel, who spent the second half of the 2018 season at Thai club Nakhon Ratchasima, said he is now injury-free and ready to join the 2018 AFF Championship action.
"I now want to prove that my stint in Thailand have provided me with experience, and this will help Malaysia go far in the tournament. I will be happy if Malaysia can reach the final match.
"Now I'm focusing on sharpening my scoring touches in front of the goal and in one-on-one situations," the 24-year old told Goal just before training on Monday.
We also asked Shahrel for his insight into defending champions Thailand's peculiar decision not to call up their best players for the tournament.
For example, two-time AFF Championship MVP Chanathip Songkrasin and three-time tournament top-scorer Teerasil Dangda, both of whom currently play club football in Japan, have been left out of the squad by head coach Milovan Rajevac.
"Those playing in Japan may not be able to come back as the Japanese league campaign is still going on, whereas the Thai domestic season is over. So that maybe why they are going with new players this time around.
"I hope that this will in turn give us a greater chance to go far in the tournament," said Shahrel.
Malaysia's final 23-man squad will be announced after the Maldives friendly, while their match against Cambodia will be held on November 8 in Phnom Penh.
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