Who are they?
- Harimau Muda (meaning ‘Young Tigers’ in English) are the Malaysian national youth squads, comprising four distinct teams.
- Harimau Muda A will be competing in the 2014 NPL Queensland competition and is for players aged 19-22;
- Harimau Muda B is the under 19 squad and compete in the Malaysia Premier League, the second tier of Malaysia football;
- Harimau Muda C for under 17’s participating in the Malaysia FAM league, the level below the Premier League; and
- Harimau Muda D, the under 15 squad.
- The aim of these squads is to develop youth players for matches on the international football stage and progression to the senior national team.
What is their history?
- Harimau Muda was first formed for the 2007/08 Malaysian Premier League where they finished 8th out of 13 teams.
- In 2009, they were the Champions of the Malaysian Premier League.
- 2010 was focused on a training camp in Slovakia for 8 months and they did not play in an organised competition
- In 2011, they were promoted to the Malaysian Super League, the country’s top tier competition and placed 5th of 14 teams.
- For 2012, it was participation in Singapore’s S-League where they finished 4th of 13.
What have been their recent results?
- Once again in 2013, they opted to be based out of Slovakia for a centralised training camp playing a series of matches in an East European friendly tour where they recorded 3 wins, 4 draws and 10 losses.
- The training camp was used as a lead-up to the 2013 South-East Asian Games where Harimau Muda attempted to defend their gold medal win in the 2011 edition.
- With the weight of expectation of the nation on their shoulders, Harimau Muda went down on penalties to Indonesia in the semi-finals before losing the third place playoff to Singapore 2-1.
They sound familiar, have they played in Queensland before?
- Yes. In February 2013, they played a series of friendlies in the south-east corner, including matches against what would turn out to be the respective 2013 NPL and BPL Champions.
- Harimau Muda defeated Brisbane Premier League side, Lions 2-1 and subsequently lost to Olympic 2-1. After the victory, Olympic Assistant qCoach, Tim Brown was quoted as saying “They were a joy to watch and (had) great technique and pace…in my opinion they were A league standard.”
Who is their coach?
- 43 year old Ong Kim Swee who played for the Malaysian national team has been the coach for the previous two years. He will not arrive in Queensland with the squad initially as he is the interim coach of the full national team. He will join the squad after the Asian Cup qualifier between Malaysia and Yemen which takes place on 5 March.
Which prospective players should we watch out for?
- For starters, there will be a large turnover of the current squad as at least 10 players will return to the Malaysian domestic competitions. This is due to the age-based nature of the squad.
- Midfielder Gary Stepehen Robbat can also fill a striker role. He is an experienced member of the squad playing 61 games for Harimau Muda with a further 33 games for Malaysia at various levels of underage and national squads.
- Midfielder Saarvindran Devandran captained Harimau Muda B in 2011. He impressed during the South-East Asian Games and his short stature allows him to expose his pace to opposition backlines.
What will they be doing in NPL Queensland?
- Harimau Muda’s participation in NPL Queensland will be the lead-in to their participation in the Asian Games in South Korea in September.
- The Football Association of Malaysia has indicated that the total cost of the team’s participation in NPL Queensland will be 4 million Malaysia Ringgit (AUD$1.37 million as at 14 January 2014) of which the Malaysian Youth and Sports Ministry will fund half of.
- Harimau Muda will not play at a ‘home ground’. Instead, all of their matches will be played at their opponent’s venue.
- They will compete under a Memorandum of Understanding rather than be granted a formal NPL licence.
- While their fixtures will be played for competition for points during the regular season, they are not eligible for the NPL Finals Series or the FFA Cup.
Here’s highlights of the Malaysian under 23’s match in the 3rd place playoff at the recent South-East Asian Games.