UAE training camp gives Maloney confidence ahead of AFC qualifiers

The Young Tigers have been drawn in Group G alongside Northern Mariana Islands, Brunei, regional favourites Thailand and group hosts Cambodia.

It was a fruitful training camp in United Arab Emirates for Brad Maloney and his Malaysia Under-18 squad as their get through their gears in preparation for the 2020 AFC U19 Qualification in Cambodia that will start in early November.

Malaysia are placed in Group G of the qualification together with Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei and Northern Mariana Islands. Only the top placed team in the group is assured of a place in the finals rounds next year and only four of the best second placed teams will progressed through to the actual tournament.

Maloney who took over the role from Bojan Hodak and had already helped the team to the final of the AFF U19 Championship back in March, continued his preparations with the aforementioned playing tour where they twice faced UAE U18, winning the first one 1-0 and losing the second 3-1.

"It was a very good environment for us to work in full time with very good facilities. The conditions were quite warm similar to the weather we expect in Cambodia next month. So it was for us to get the team together, bond a little bit, understand each other a litte more and try to implement what we want tactically.

"At this stage, the result are irrespective to the performance. We're experimenting with different players in different positions and combinations so these are all part of the learning curve. I'm quite happy with the level of the opposition we played against, they gave us a very good test.

"So far so good. The players have come a long way in a short space of time. There are some new players in the group that are still gelling with the rest. At this moment, I'm reasonably happy with it.

Malaysia will continue their training with friendly matches planned against Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei before the team departs to Phnom Penh where they will kick off their qualifying campaign against Cambodia on November 2. Brunei and Northern Mariana Islands will be the next two opponents before wrapping up the group with a tie against Thailand.

This week's training will also see star duo in Luqman Hakim and Sikh Izhan rejoining the team. Maloney's team are expected to vie with Thailand for the top spot and a place in the in the finals next year that will be played in Uzbekistan.


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