Walking wounded

Walking wounded
READY: Malaysia Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee believes the replacements for his key players will be ready to step up.

REPORTING FROM NAYPYIDAW

It is the stuff of nightmares for football coaches.

One by one, Malaysia's Under-23 football coach Ong Kim Swee has seen his key players ruled out through injuries.

Defenders Nik Shahrul Azim Abdul Halim and Fandi Othman, midfielders Junior Eldstal and Gary Robbat, and attackers Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor, Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria and Syahrul Azwari will not be in Ong's 20- man squad when Harimau Muda defend their South-east Asia (SEA) Games football gold in Myanmar.

"The injuries have piled up and we will definitely miss all these players for their versatility and big-match experience," said Ong.

"But we have other capable players who have mostly been together for months, and they will be ready for this mission."

The 42-year-old Malaysian led his team to a SEA Games football gold two years ago in Indonesia.

But he revealed to The New Paper that if they don't win the gold in Naypyidaw this month, he could lose his job.

Malaysia are drawn in Group A alongside Singapore, Vietnam, Laos and Brunei. The action kicked off at the Zayar Thiri Stadium in Naypyidaw.

Singapore and Malaysia meet in their final group game next Sunday.

With a chuckle, the affable Ong said: "That's right. My KPI (key performance indicator) is to bring back another gold medal. If we get knocked out, I don't know what is going to happen. I may not have a job."

Ong's two-year contract runs out this month and clubs keen to secure his services have been deterred by his commitment to his SEA Games assignment, which could run till Dec 21.

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