Malaysia's first step in the preparations towards the 2020 AFC U19 Championship in Uzbekistan which offfers a place in the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup that would be held in Indonesia began in earnest today after the list of 35 players that would be part of the first training camp starting 6 July was released today.
It's a massive number of players for this training camp and it includes two overseas-based players in Wan Kuzri Wan Kamal (St Louis Football Academy) and Adam Nadzmi Zamri (BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy) with 33 other players across the Youth Cup, President Cup, Premier League and Super League teams in Malaysia.
Yet the most conspicious absences in the list includes star striker Luqman Hakim and his team mates in the Selangor II side like Mukhairi Ajmal, Ahmad Zikri Khalili, Firdaus Irman and Sikh Izhan Nazrel. All of whom have been kept at the club at the request of Selangor 2.
"We've spoken to the Selangor and they have informed us that they need those players for training to prepare for the league restart. They have plans to give these players game time and that is fair enough. Obviously we will have other training camps before the AFC tournament and we will be looking to get them in then.
"Prior to the league stopping and the lockdown, we had been looking at players and we had been able to identify new faces from the first few rounds of matches. We've decided to invite some of those in to have a closer look and see if they can fit in our playing style and can step up to the kind of level international demands.
"Realistically the most important thing is for football to restart again. For players to build up their core fitness levels again. Particularly for the Youth Cup and President Cup players whom many would not have been able to train anywhere at the moment. This gives all the players an opportunity to restart their training, become active again and focus on football again," Brad Maloney told Goal.
It is understood that the U19 head coach will be keeping close tabs on the crew of players at Selangor and the matches that they will feature in the Premier League, if as expected competitive matches return sometime in August or September.
Alternatively, there were no such requests from Johor Darul Ta'zim II who have given their word on the release of players and it will give Maloney and his coaching staff a chance to get an up close view on one of Johor Darul Ta'zim newest debutant in Arif Aiman.
Malaysia are placed in Group D of the AFC U19 Championship that will begin on 16 October with the clash against Tajikistan before facing Qatar (19 Oct) and Yemen (22 Oct). The four semi-finalists of the tournament will earn themselves a place in the U20 World Cup next year.