KUALA LUMP[UR, May 16 (Bernama) -- Harimau Malaya squad head coach Tan Cheng Hoe has dropped 11 players including captain Zaquan Adha from the training camp in preparation for the 2022 World Cup / 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in a media statement also said the 51-year-old coach had retained 14 of the 25 players called up for the previous central training camp for the 2019 AIRMARINE Cup.
Besides the Kedah striker, three others from the team which reached the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup finals who were dropped are goalkeepers Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Melaka United), Nazirul Naim Che Hashim (Perak) and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri (Johor Darul Ta’zim).
The seven others are Rizal Ghazali (Kedah), Abdul Latiff Suhaimi (Selangor), Hadin Azman (Felda United), S. Kumaahran (JDT II), Hafiz Ramdan (PKNP FC), Firdaus Saiyadi (Perak) and Nicholas Swirad (PKNS FC).
In turn, Cheng Hoe called on six players involved in the AFC 2020 Under-23 Championship qualifying campaign, last March, namely four JDT players – Safawi Rasid, Akhyar Rasid, Syamer Kutty Abba and Dominic Tan, as well as Syahmi Safari (Selangor) and Faisal Abdul Halim (Pahang).
Joining the list again after missing the AIRMARINE Cup 2019 are goalkeeper Farizal Marlias, Adam Nor Azlin and Syafiq Ahmad (JDT) and Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi (Perak).
Two new faces called up to complete a list of 26 players for the central training camp that begins on May 27, are JDT's La'Vere Corbin-Ong and Rodney Celvin Akwensivie (PKNS FC).
Malaysia, who are the world's 168th ranking team, will face Nepal (161st) in a friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on June 2.
From the match, three players will be dropped to make the final list of 23 players who face Timor Leste on June 7 and June 11, with both home and away matches to be held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
If they beat Timor Leste, the Harimau Malaya squad will qualify for Round 2 of the 2022 World Cup /2023 Asian Cup qualifiers which will be divided into eight groups (five teams per group) with 10 matches spread over nine months from September 5, 2019 to June 9, 2020.