# Malaysia need a top four finish in the Junior Asia Cup
# ‘We need to be fully focused during a match’ – Arul
National Juniors coach A. Arul Selvaraj believes Malaysia has the material for the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan next month but is concerned with unwarranted shortcomings in has about three weeks to whip the team into shape.
Malaysia’s podium finish in the 5th edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational International which ended on Sunday has further boosted Malaysia’s hopes of doing well in Kuantan.
The Malaysian Juniors finished third after defeating Argentina 3-2 in the playoff for the bronze medal.
Malaysia head to Kuantan as defending champions and a top four finish in the Asian meet will assure Malaysia a place in next year’s Junior World Cup Finals in New Delhi in December.
“We tend to lapse in concentration towards the tail-end of a match. This was very evident in Johor Bahru,” said Arul.
Arul is also concerned with the players’ tendency to pick up bookings in a match and this affected the team’s rhythm.
“We cannot afford to have key players sitting on the sidelines. Every player is crucial in the team and when one is in the sin bin it puts pressure on the rest and this how we conceded goals.
Putting that aside Arul is pleased with the team’s overall performance with a third placing – an achievement that is better than last year’s fifth placing where they beat Pakistan in the playoff.
Senior international Shahril Saabah has an outstanding game in the Sultan of Johor Cup where he topscored with eight goals. Another player who stood out was Najmi Farizal Jazlan.
First choice goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi had an erratic run in Johor Bahru but still showed his “true form” to help the team and even walked away with the Man of the Match Award once.
“He is still our first choice goalkeeper and we need him as our last line of defense although he did concede some soft goals,” said Arul, who is confident that the Melaka-born Ridzwan could be a star performer in Kuantan.
Arul will also welcome back his two regulars – Mohamed Sufi Ismat and Rafizul Ezry Mustafa – both of whom were left out of the team in Johor Bahru due to hamstring injuries.
Arul included three senior players in this year’s Sultan of Johor Cup squad – Shahril Saabah, Haziq Shamsul and Meor Mohamed Azuan – to beef up the team. However, Meor sat out the tournament due to hamstring injury.
The six-nation Sultan of Johor Cup saw Great Britain crowned as the new champions when they defeated two champions India (2013 and 2014) 4-3 on sudden death penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw.
Pakistan ended the tournament without a win to show when they lost 5-0 to Australia in the playoff.