By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: The Harimau Muda A team’s (national Under-23) five-month training cum playing tour of Slovakia will open the door for wannabe talents to ply their trade in Europe.
Stocky midfielder Gary Steven Robbat is one of the aspiring talents who will be hoping to get spotted by Corgon Liga sides (top division) during the stint. The Malaysians will also play friendlies against professional clubs in Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The 21-year-old Gary made heads turn during the team’s last stint in Slovakia in 2010. He was spotted by FC Vion Zlate Moravce. Gary and centreback Muslim Ahmad were called up for special trials by the club. Unfortunately, Gary had to abandon his dream because of injuries.
“The opportunity came but I was down with an injury. Now, I have a shot again. I will try to impress the clubs in Europe. I have been there before and should be better prepared for the challenges when playing against these European clubs,” said Gary before leaving with the 24-member team for Slovakia yesterday.
The injury-prone Gary also missed the cut to represent Malaysia in the 2011 SEA Games due to a hamstring injury.
He has vowed to regain his place in the Under-23 squad.
“I guess it is because of my robust playing style and going for the hard tackles. It is tough playing in defensive midfield but I am learning from game to game. I need to stay free from injury,” said Gary.
The Slovakia stint is part of the team’s build-up for the SEA Games in Myanmar in December.
Coach Ong Kim Swee is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to land Malaysia’s third consecutive gold at the Games. Malaysia won the gold in Laos (2009) and Jakarta (2011).
The team will also represent Malaysia at the World University Games in Kuzan, Russia, from July 6-17 and the Merdeka Tournament in September.
Kim Swee hopes to see the players take full advantage of the playing stint in Europe to further their football careers.
“This is a stepping stone for the players to make a name for themselves. I have told them that this is not a holiday trip. The reason we opted out from the S-League is for them to raise their profile playing against the top professional teams in Europe. These matches will benefit them and I won’t be surprised if some of them get spotted by these clubs,” said Kim Swee.
Two players – midfielder Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor and defender Nazirul Naim Che Hashim – will not be making the trip to Slovakia. They are set to play for Japanese Third Division outfit FC Ryukyu this month.
- Brazilian club offer to host Harimau Muda A for training stint
- Ong wants European stint to be continued
- Harimau Muda head for Slovakia to prepare for SEA Games
- Harimau Muda march on with 14 players
- Harimau Muda A’s tour will go on despite floods