Malaysia call-up for Brendan Gan while JDT's Safee Sali dropped
Kelantan midfielder Brendan Gan has vowed to make the most of his surprise call-up to the Malaysia national team for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, veteran Johor Darul Ta'zim forward Safee Sali is a notable omission from the squad.
The Malaysians will travel to the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Jeddah on March 24 to complete what has been a disappoiting campaign for the Southeast Asian giants.
With four points from seven matches, Malaysia will be playing for pride as they continue to rebuild under head coach Ong Kim Swee, with November's AFF Suzuki Cup in mind.
1st phase training. Even though with only 7 players, it's still important to stay fit ahead of Saudi Arabia game. pic.twitter.com/qlZwW1FSN8- ONG KIM SWEE (@OKS_HARIMAUMUDA) March 14, 2016
But Gan says he is relishing the challenge of facing up to the Saudis, who have won five of six matches in Group A to sit on the verge of progression to the next round.
"Going into a game against Saudi, you have to be positive and confident," he told ESPN FC. "At the end of the day, it is 11 on 11 and if everyone does their job then anything is possible.
"We can go into this game with no fear and show everyone that we can compete on a high level."
Gan is not the only newcomer to the team, with Kedah midfielder Amirul Hisyam also in the mix to make his debut for the Harimau Malaysia.
The biggest surprise comes in the form of JDT duo of striker Safee and goalkeeper Farizal Marlias, who were considered mainstays within the national squad.
Malaysia will return from Jeddah to play a friendly match against Macau at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca on March 29.
Australian-born Gan, who represented Malaysia as an overage player in the 2014 Asian Games, is yet to earn his first full cap.
"I am very excited to be amongst the national team squad and after being out injured for almost a year is amazing," he said.
"Having had a taste of being a part of the national set-up before made me hungry to play at my best so I am in the shop window for all national camps."
Goalkeepers: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kel); Mohd Farhan Abu Bakar (Ked); Mohd Izham Tarmizi (JDT)
Defenders: Yong Kuong Yong (Ter); Matthew Davies (Pah); Shahrom Kalam, Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq (Sel); Shahrul Saad (Prk); Mohd Aidil Zafuan, Mohd Fadhli Shas, S. Kunalan (JDT)
Midfielders: Wan Zack Wan Haikal, Brendan Gan (Kel); Joseph Kallang Tie (Ter); Hafiz Kamal, Nazmi Faiz (Sel); Baddrol Bakhtiar, Mohd Amirul Hisyam (Ked); Mohd Fazly Mazlan, S. Chanturu, Safiq Rahim (JDT)
Forwards: Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Ter); Mohd Amri Yahyah (JDT)
Standby: Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Ked); K. Gurusamy (Swk); Adam Nor Azlin (Sel); Mohd Farizal Marlias, Mohd Nazrin Nawi (JDT)