Ong Kim Swee takes Malaysia U22 to China, looks ahead to SEA Games

Malaysia's under-22 squad departed for China on Thursday for an important tour to build confidence ahead of August's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Datuk Ong Kim Swee is back as Harimau Muda coach after 18 months as senior boss, and will hope to replicate his SEA Games success from 2011 on home soil.

They are also preparing for the 2018 AFC Asian U23 qualifiers in Thailand in July.

The Malaysia U22s will play the reserve teams of Chinese Super League (CSL) sides Guangzhou Evergrande (June 13) and Guangzhou R&F (June 15) in addition to the Chinese U22s (June 10).

Ong cut four players for a 22-man squad after a 1-1 friendly draw against Malaysia Super League side Felda United on Tuesday.

The quartet who dropped out were Ahmad Syihan Hazmi, Danial Ashraf, Ariff Farhan and Raphi Azizan, due to injuries.

Ong, who has been replaced by Portugal's Nelo Vingada as national boss, will be hoping to restore his reputation with the U22 side, starting with the China tour.

His side weren't impressive in their draw against Felda on Tuesday.

But 46-year-old Ong has players in the squad who can make a difference if they perform to their true potential.

With cameo appearances from the bench, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) winger Safawi Rasid has shown a burst of pace and a direct style.

In goal, Kedah's Ifwat Akmal has been an assured presence for the state side who clinched the Malaysia FA Cup last month.

Penang forwards S. Kumaahran and Jafri Firdaus Chew, along with Selangor's versatile winger Syahmi Safari, are considered the core of the team, who will carry plenty of responsibility in upcoming matches.

Malaysia U22 squad for China tour:

Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Syafiq Ahmad, Ifwat Akmal, S. Kumaahran, Jafri Firdaus Chew, Syamer Kutty Abba, Syahmi Safari, Adam Nor Azlin, K. Kannan, Ali Imran Alimi, Daniel Amier Norhisham, Safawi Rasid, Haziq Nazli, N. Thanabalan, Adib Zainuddin, Sean Eugene Selvaraj, L. Kalaiharasan, Tommy Mawat, Irfan Zakaria, Syazwan Andik Ishak, Syazwan Zaipol Bahari, Amierul Hakimi Awang