# Kim Swee and Hamidin confident of at least semis in AFF Suzuki Cup
# Newcomers eager to show their stuff in Yangon
By Rizal Abdullah
The Harimau Malaysia squad flew off to Yangon on Wednesday morning – determined to silence their critics that they are have pride and dignity to keep the Malaysian flag flying in the AFF Suzuki Cup which kicks-off this Saturday.
There is plenty to inspire the national team. Critics have not left the team in peace and for national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee it has never been plain sailing since he took over the hot seat in January.
However, the Malacca-born former international has “swallowed” all that has been hurled at him. Kim Swee believes that he has the material to take Malaysia at least to the semi-finals for a start in Yangon – the venue for Group B matches involving Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar will be played.
Harimau Malaysia open their campaign against Cambodia on Sunday at the Thuwunna Youth Training Centre Stadium in Yangon. The other matches are against Vietnam (Nov 23) and Myanmar (Nov 26).
It has been a long journey for Kim Swee – a journey that is hampered by pitfalls mae worse by the sudden departure of key players – all pillars in the team that gave stability even when the chips were down. They would certainly have made a world of difference to Harimau Malaysia in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Never mind the criticism that have been hurled at Kim Swee. He has been questioned on his training methods and even his choice of players. The huge turnover of national trainees is understandable when several quit the team while injuries kayoed number of others.
The fans had their fair share of criticism so did some high ranking officials of other teams. Kim Swee, however, took it all in his stride.
“I stand by my decisions,” says Kim Swee who deserves credit for “swallowing” all that has been said of him.
“I have faith and confidence in the team. Those picked “will deliver” in Yangon where Malaysia will also wear their new jersey by Nike. It black jerseys for away and white for home, which is bound to inspire the team.
The results in the friendly matches Malaysia do not reflect of Harimau Malaysia’s strength as it allowed Kim Swee to “test the players” and come out with the right stuff for the AFF Suzuki Cup.
In the friendlies Malaysia lost to Indonesia (3-0), drew with Singapore (0-0), Afghanistan (1-1) and on Monday beat Papua New Guinea (2-1).
GOALKEEPERS: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Khairul Azhan Khalid, Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy.
DEFENDERS: Fadhli Shas, Khairul Helmi Johari, Rizal Ghazali, Matthew Davies, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Ronny Harun, Shahrom Abdul Kalam.
MIDFIELDERS: Amri Yahyah, Ahmad Fakri Saarni, Hadin Azman, Irfan Fazail, Zaquan Adha Radzak, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Syazwan Zainon, Shahrul Saad, S. Veenod.
STRIKERS: Safee Sali, Darren Lok, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.