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Rising star Rozaimi in frame for AFF Suzuki Cup


13-Jul-2012
Malaysia's teenaged goalscoring sensation Rozaimi Rahman will be given every opportunity to play his way into the squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup, according to national coach K. Rajagobal.

The Sabah striker hit the headlines with 10 goals for Malaysia in the recent AFC U-22 Championship qualifiers in Myanmar, including four in the 7-0 drubbing of the Philippines and a hat-trick against Vietnam.

Rajagobal is impressed enough to include the 19-year-old in the squad for the upcoming friendlies against Arsenal (July 24) and English Premier League champions Manchester City (July 30).

"I will call him up and we will see how he goes," he said. "He had a good tournament in Myanmar.

"Earlier when we had a friendly match against Sri Lanka he was in the squad and got the opportunity to play 15 minutes. And he has done well with his club side Sabah.

"He needs to be tested at a higher level. I will likely play him against Arsenal and Manchester City and other friendly matches and then I will come to a conclusion if this player can be included in the squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup.

"We want exciting players, interesting players - that is what you need in today's kind of football. You need that creativity in the attack."

Defending champions and co-hosts Malaysia have been drawn against 2010 beaten finalists Indonesia and old rivals Singapore in a tough-looking Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup and Rajagobal said it was vital to get the right preparation for the tournament.

"We have the matches against Arsenal and Manchester City this month and there will be other friendlies," he said. "We have to prepare well. The momentum was there in our three recent friendly matches.

"I just hope all the players we identify to form the main core and bring balance and chemistry to the team are available for the AFF Suzuki Cup.

"Things are moving well so far and the players know what it takes to play in the tournament. All Asean teams are strong. It depends on what happens in a particular tournament. I am very positive about the players and we should be ready in November."

Malaysia kick off their campaign with a match against Singapore on November 25.