Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has named a 27-men training squad for July’s big friendlies against Arsenal and Manchester City.
The team will group on July 16 under national team coach Datuk K.Rajagopal, who opted for a great amount of young players for the clashes against the two English Premier League powehouses.
Seven players from the team who triumphed at last year’s SEA Games will all be part of the squad, while 19-year-old rising star Rozaimi Rahman will also join the team after his outstanding performance with the U-21 side, wherewith he scored 10 goals in 5 matches in 2013 U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Rajagopal will use these prestigious encounters to prepare the team for the upcoming Suzuki Cup, which will be played on home soil and Thailand between November and December.
The Malayan Tigers will take on Arsenal on July 24 in Bukit Jalil’s National Stadium, before challenging current Premier League champions Manchester City six days later in the same venue.
Goalkeepers: Khairul Fahmi (Kelantan), Norazlan Razali (Selangor), Mohd Farizal (Negeri Sembilan).
Defenders: Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar (Selangor), Mohd Fadhli Shas (Harimau Muda A), Subramaniam (Kelantan), Muslim Ahmad (Terengganu), Amirizwan (ATM), Faizal Muhammad (Terengganu), Mahali Jasuli (Harimau Muda A), Mohd Aidil Zafuan (ATM), Azmi Muslim (ATM)
Midfielders: Safiq Rahim (Selangor), Shahurain Abu Samah (Negeri Sembilan), Amar Rohidan (Kedah), Baddrol Bakhtiar (Kedah), Bunyamin Umar (Selangor), Kunanlan (Negeri Sembilan), Mohd Shakir Shaari (Kelantan), Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin (Terengganu), Rozaimi Abdul (Sabah), Yong Kuong Yong (Felda United).
Strikers: Safee Sali (Pelita Jaya), Norshahrul Idlan (Kelantan), Ahmad Shakir Mohd Ali (Negeri Sembilan), Mohd Khyril Muhymeen Zambri (Kedah), Azamuddin Mohd Akil (Pahang).
20-year-old centre-back Rohit Chand is by far Nepal‘s most promising talent in many years. He made headlines in his country when teams such as Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Rangers showed interest in him after his sensational performance in the 1-1 draw against Jordan with the national team on the road to the 2014 World Cup.
1) When did you start playing football and how have you become a professional footballer so quickly in Nepal?
I started playing football at the age of 12. I used to play football in my home town Surkhet (a small town in Nepal). At the age of 13 I was selected in ANFA ACADEMY, the only football academy for youth players in the country. My tour in Iran with the U-16 national team in 2008 was the turning point of my career. At the age of 16 I was called up to the senior national team even though I hadn’t played any games both at club and U-19 team’s level. Getting a chance to serve my country helped me to start my professional football career quickly in Nepal.
2) Which are the biggest differences between playing in India and in Nepal?
I think the Nepal football league is still like at amateur level while the I-League is more like a semi-professional league. The I-League is far more better than the Nepalese one in both financial aspects and infrastructures.
3) Are you satisfied with your improvements as a footballer since playing in the I-League?
Of course I am well satisfied. I got good pitches, experienced coaches and more facilities to improve my football skills then in Nepal. Definitely I grabbed more improvements while playing in the I-league.
4) Do you think there are other Nepalese players who could play in the I-League?
Yes, I think there are some players in Nepal who have the deserving quality to play in the I-League. For example Sandip Rai, Bharat Khawas, Kiran Chemzong and Biraj Maharjan could all play in India’s top flight.
5) What can you reveal us about Lille, Rangers, Kettering Town, Tottenham and Arsenal’s interests in you?
If I got a chance for trials I would be very happy! Past is past…eheh.
6) Where would you like to play abroad?
My target is to play in Europe top fight’s clubs.
7) Why was Nepal’s AFC Challenge Cup campaign so disappointing?
Yeah it was quite disappointing for me and my country as well, probably because we had lack of friendly matches and because we didn’t have enough time to prepare well for the competition.
8) What are your best memories about former national team coach Graham Roberts?
Coach Graham Roberts is a fantastic person. He’s the best coach I’ve ever trained under. I will always remember his motivating speeches and his determination towards team’s work. Not only me but all the Nepalese people love him.
9) What has been your highlight of the season so far?
I think the hattrick against Pune Fc was the highlight of the season so far in the I-league for me.
10) What are your impressions about the current state of football in Nepal?
I think Nepalese football needs a grassroots level’s development. Nepal football is still lacking professionalism in coaches, players, marketing and technologies. It is in a developing phase.
11) What’s your aim of the season and of the career?
If possible I would like to play European football because my ultimate target is to play in Europe.
12) Who has been the best player you’ve played with until now? And the best you’ve played against?
Nepal international right-back Biraj Maharjan is the best player I have played with, and Maldives’ Ali Ashfaq is the best I have played against.
By Christian Rizzitelli