U-23 aims for quarter-finals in Asian Games
Published on: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

PETALING JAYA: The national Under 23 (U-23) football squad aims to advance to at least the quarter-finals at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia next month.Chef de Mission (CDM) of Malaysia's contingent to the 2018 Asian Games, Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi said the target was made based on the squad's remarkable performance in advancing to the quarter-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship 2018 in China earlier this year.

He said the squad coached by Datuk Ong Kim Swee had the potential to make it even to the semi-finals if all players called up by the head coach were released by their respective teams and clubs to play in the national squad.

"I was made to understand that the list of the U-23 players comprise mostly those who played in China.

If they can play again in Indonesia, we will most likely advance to at least the quarter-finals.

"If we made it to quarter-finals, there is a huge possibility for us to enter semi-finals, but if we cannot get all the required players, our chances are slim in Indonesia," he told reporters after attending a meeting with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) at Wisma FAM here.

On the player release issue, Abdul Azim said he hoped that each state team and club would emulate Johor Darul Ta'zim's (JDT) move in agreeing to release their players who were called up to play in the U-23 squad.

He said the refusal of any team to release the players to join the national squad would only affect Malaysia's performance at the games.

Meanwhile, Abdul Azim said neither he nor the FAM had received information on the draw date of the football event.

As a preparation for the 2018 Asian Games, the national U-23 squad will engage in friendly matches against China's U-23 team in Changzhou on Aug 2, and against Saudi Arabia's U-23 squad in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 9, before leaving for Indonesia on Aug 12. – Bernama


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