By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: The Harimau Muda A boys, minus four regulars, will be put to the test against the Under-19 Slovakia football team today.
It will be the first game for the Malaysians since they arrived in Slovakia last week. The five-month playing tour includes matches against top Corgon Liga (Division One) teams as well as with other club sides from Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The national Under-23 squad under head coach Ong Kim Swee are preparing ahead of the defence of their SEA Games gold in Myanmar (Dec 11-22).
Kim Swee said in a telephone interview from Slovakia that the boys have settled down well despite the cold conditions (below 8°Celcius).
“It is a bit cold but we have all adjusted well and are looking forward with our mission to gain valuable experience from this European stint. We have a good match for a start playing against the Slovakian Under-19 side, who are preparing for the Euro Under-19 tournament in Italy,” said Kim Swee.
Slovakia has become a favourite training ground for the Malaysians, who have reaped good results in the age-group tournaments, especially winning back-to-back SEA Games Under-23 football gold medals in 2009 (Laos) and 2011 (Jakarta).
The Harimau Muda A boys will be playing against the Georgia Under-23 side on March 26 before they start playing against the Corgon League teams.
“It is going to be tough playing without the core of the team but it will nevertheless be significant to test out the other players. Some of the regulars are on national duty or nursing injuries. So, this is the opening for the other players to step in and make themselves counted,” said Kim Swee.
Centreback Mohd Fadhli Shas and winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor have stayed home for the Asian Cup qualifying round match against Yemen yesterday while Mohd Irfan Fazail and Gary Steven are both nursing injuries.
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