BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia U-22's path in the coming men's football competition at the 2019 SEA (Southeast Asian) Games in Manila, the Phillippines is expected to be an easy one, following the draw that was conducted on Tuesday morning.
Datuk Ong Kim Swee's charges have been drawn in Group A for the group stage, avoiding the other tournament favourites Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam who have been drawn in Group B. The other teams in Group B are Laos, Singapore and Brunei.
Malaysia have been drawn in the group together with hosts Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Timor-Leste. On top of avoiding the tougher sides, being drawn in Group A also will see Malaysia playing in only four group matches, as compared to the five that will be played by Group B teams.
Keputusan Undian Sukan SEA 2019 (Lelaki)— FA Malaysia (@FAM_Malaysia) October 15, 2019
Skuad B-22 kebangsaan kendalian Datuk Ong Kim Swee telah diundi dalam Kumpulan A bersama Filipina, Myanmar, Kemboja & Timor-Leste bagi Sukan SEA 2019 di Filipina, 26 November hingga 9 Disember 2019.#FAM #HarimauMalaya #SEAGames2019 pic.twitter.com/4e2hCHfz7l
When met by the press, Kim Swee however downplayed the favourable result of the draw, highlighting the advantage had by the hosts.
"Sure, it looks easy on paper, but we can't underestimate the challenge as the other teams have been preparing early. The gap between the teams will be narrowed by the inclusion of two over-aged players, which will surely benefit the hosts Philippines.
"We need to take it one game at a time. Things will get tougher in the knockout stage, so we can't be thinking about the medal that we want for the time being. We are targeting a medal, but for now our focus is on the group stage," he explained.
Asked about his preparation plans for the centralised training, the former SEA Games gold medal winning coach remarked that his selection will only be made after the Malaysia senior team's World Cup qualification match against Indonesia on September 19.
"I will only decide on the two over-aged players after the senior team's match against Indonesia," said the 48-year old trainer. "Only after that we'll know whether they will be able to join my team. After all, boys like Safawi Rasid and Syamer Kutty Abba are already regular full internationals.
"The centralised camp will begin on November 4 with 25 players excluding those who will be with the senior team. We will play in one friendly match against a local side, and arrange another friendly with an international side. I'm still waiting for the teams' confirmations."
The men's football competition will take place from November 26 to December 9.
Meanwhile, in the women's competition, Malaysia have been drawn in Group A, with the competition played from November 28 to December 9.
Keputusan Undian Sukan SEA 2019 (Wanita)— FA Malaysia (@FAM_Malaysia) October 15, 2019
Skuad bola sepak wanita kebangsaan kendalian Jacob Joseph telah diundi dalam Kumpulan A bersama Filipina & Myanmar bagi Sukan SEA 2019 di Filipina, 28 November hingga 9 Disember 2019.#FAM #HarimauMalaya #MalaysiaWomen #SEAGames2019 pic.twitter.com/mKLhXb6WMa
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