National football chief coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee is targeting to improve Malaysia’s ranking with win against the Philippines in an international friendly match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on March 22. After having draws in the last four encounters since 2012 against the 124th ranked Philippines, Kim Swee hopes a win would help the national squad to leap several ranks from its 161st spot in the world now. The match is also a warm-up for Malaysia before facing North Korea (121st) in their 2019 Asian Cup final qualifying round on March 28.
The 47-year-old coach from Malacca said the match against The Azkals is very important as Harimau Malaysia have not been in action after being knocked out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup group competition in Myanmar in November.
“Our games with Philippines have been ending in draws. So obviously we want to win but it would not be easy as the Philippines are a strong team and they are ranked much higher than us,” Kim Swee was quoted as saying in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) website today.
On the list of 23 players called for centralised training starting Monday, he said the majority of the players have been retained to maintain the teamwork established among players.
“I did not make many changes with players as we will not have sufficient time to rebuild the new combination. It will be easier to regroup as most of the players are already familiar with each other.
“The new faces called up are based on their good performance in league matches such as Farizal Harun, Akram Mahinan and Afif Amiruddin,” he said.
Kim Swee is expected to join centralised training one day later on Tuesday, as he has to attend to family matters after his father passed away on Tuesday this week. The first day of centralised camp training for Harimau Malaysia at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya will be conducted by national assistant coach, Brad Maloney.