Farizal Marlias is named national skipper

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Veteran goalkeeper Farizal Marlias has been named the new national skipper and coach Tan Cheng Hoe is confident that “it is the right choice” in the absence of Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak who was not in the squad this time around.

Zaquan, who skippered Malaysia to the AFF Suzuki Cup final last year, is a surprise omission by Cheng Hoe, who in his own words is “still a national player” who has a role to play.

“Farizal has years of experience as a player, both internationally and locally. He has the qualities to lead the team. More importantly, he is respected on and off the field,” said Cheng Hoe before Friday’s training session at the Felda artificial turf in Bangi.

The team has been training at the University Malaya mini stadium the past few days but unpredictable weather has made it soggy and this affected the team’s training sessions.

Farizal, 32, currently plays for Johor Darul Takzim who have won the Malaysian Super League title the past five years. JDT’s sixth Super League title is in the bag as the Southern Tigers hold a massive 13-point lead of second-placed Pahang.

The Maran-born (Pahang) Farizal has been the mainstay of the Southern Tigers who became the first team from Malaysia to play in the AFC Champions League. JDT, however, failed to reach the knockout stage of the Asian meet.

Cheng Hoe is counting on his latest national squad to deliver a positive result when the Harimau Malaya play Nepal in an international friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday.

This will be followed by Malaysia’s first qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup against Timor Leste on June 7 and 11. Both matches will be played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Malaysia, however, will have to make do without Selangor defender Syahmi Safari who is injured (ankle). Syahmi is known for his strong overlapping runs. Cheng Hoe readily admits that Syahmi will be “sorely missed” but is confident of getting the right replacement.

Cheng Hoe will pick his final 23-man squad after the friendly against Nepal.

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