Sunday, November 25, 2012
My Harimau Malaya XI
We shall expect Singapore to play on the counter leaving Malaysia to seize the initiative. Datuk K. Rajagobal and Radojko Avramovic may be happy with a draw as the two arch-rivals open their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign in a few hours.
My pick for the Malaysian XI...
1. Farizal Marlias (GK)
Third keeper in the 2008 edition, first-choice during the 2009 SEA Games before losing his place to Sharbinee Alawee Ramli, Farizal missed the 2010 edition but seems likely to start ahead of Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, the darling of the nation when he saved a penalty in Jakarta in the final, second leg two years ago.
2. Bunyamin Umar (RB)
Handed his first international cap as a 19-year old by B. Sathianathan against Bahrain in 2007 which culminated with his first international goal in a 4-1 defeat, Bunyamin was a key figure in Rajagobal's Under-20 side that advanced to the Asian Under-20 championship in India in 2006. Able to play anywhere across the park. Lim Teong Kim once told him to go to Europe after watching him play in the Champions Youth Cup in 2007.
3. Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak (RCB)
Missed the previous edition but the defence is built around the 25-year old who has been part of the national set-up since age 14 in 2001.
4. Mohd Fadhli Shas (LCB)
A surprise inclusion who featured alongside Muslim Ahmad in the absence of Nasriq Baharom and Aidil in 2010. Will be around for a long time.
5. Zubir Azmi (LB)
Given a chance by Ong Kim Swee to man the left flank, Zubir will tussle with Azmi Muslim for the slot which hitherto had been Asraruddin Putra Omar's domain.
6. Amar Rohidan (CM)
A member of Rajagobal's Under-20 side in 2006, Amar screens the defence and does the dirty work before distributing the ball to the flanks or Safiq.
7. Safiq Rahim (CM)
Picked by Norizan Bakar for the Asian Games and the AFF Cup in 06/07, his partnership with Amar is the focal point of Rajagobal's plans. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Safiq has to play the fetch and carry role, leaving the imagination to Norshahrul Idlan.
8. Khyril Muhymeen Zambri (RW)
His fourth successive tournament since bursting into the scene in 2006 with Safiq, Khyril or Meen may well be the match-winner for Harimau Malaya, having rediscovered the form which propelled him to the top as a teenager.
9. Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (FW)
If he is in the mood, Matyo could wreak havoc on any defence in the region. If not, his tournament could be shortlived.
10. Safee Sali (FW)
The forward who served Jorvan Vieira, Rajagobal, Allan Harris and Bertalan Bisckei, Safee was given his first taste of senior international by Norizan against New Zealand in 2006. Reinstated by Rajagobal a year after he was installed as chief coach for the training camp in Turkey in mid 2010, Safee is trying hard to deliver.
11. S. Kunanlan (LW)
A former cross country runner who will give his all even if he lacks the goalscoring touch.
Of the 22 men, 10 featured in 2010. Seven likely to start.
12. Baddrol Bakhtiar (FW)
Able to play as spearhead, as deep-lying forward or on the flanks.
13. Ahmad Fakri Saarani (FW)
Bound for Portugal, Fakri's pace will trouble any defence.
14. Ahmad Hazwan Bakri (FW)
15. Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor (RW)
Winger who can add pace.
16. Azamuddin Akil (RW)
Had a good season but recalled only after Zaquan Adha's injury.
17. Mahalli Jasuli (RB)
Right back whose cross was met by Safee for Malaysia's third goal in the first leg final in 2010, Mahalli's attacking instincts may prove to be crucial.
18. Azmi Muslim (LB)
Watch out for his long-range effort with his left peg.
19. Shakir Shaari (CM)
A central midfelder in the Malaysian Under-20 side under Rajagobal in 2004, Shakir has to play second fiddle to Safiq and Amar.
20. Gary Steven Robbat (CM)
A hard-running box-to-box midfielder who can add a different dimension.
21. Faizal Muhammad (CB)
Reliable substitute in central defence.
22. Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (GK)
The poster boy of Malaysian football.