Safee Sali, Shahrul Saad catch eye ahead of Malaysia's Manila trip

He's now 33 years old, but former Suzuki Cup hero Safee Sali has found a new lease of life ahead of Malaysia's friendly against Philippines in Manila on Wednesday.

Safee, Shahrul Saad, Rizal Ghazali and Khair Jones have all caught the eye in the lead up to the national team's departure from Kuala Lumpur on Monday, according to assistant national coach Brad Maloney.

Malaysia played two different sides as they eased to a 1-0 victory over second-tier side PDRM FA at Panasonic Stadium in Shah Alam on Saturday night.

Safee started up front with Hazwan Bakri in the first half, before Zaquan Adha played as a lone striker in the second half. Safee's place at Johor Darul Ta'zim has effectively been taken by Hazwan this season, with the veteran moving to PKNS FC where he's enjoyed more game time.

"Safee Sali has been training the house down," Maloney told ESPN FC. "Shahrul Saad has been good, Rizal Ghazali is now one of the best wing-backs in the country and Khair Jones has staked his claim for the left-back position.

"We were satisfied with the hit out against PDRM and tried a few different combinations. There's no injuries to report."

Safee has scored twice in eight Malaysia Super League games for PKNS this season after falling out of favour with JDT. At international level, he has 20 goals in 73 appearances over a decade since 2006.

Against the Cops, the winner came in the ninth minute from Shahrul, who struck a sweet shot from outside the box with his left foot.

Maloney said that head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee was still weighing up his options regarding his starting side against Philippines, who are 37 places above them on the FIFA rankings.


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"All players played roughly 45 minutes each in the friendly against PDRM," Maloney said. "There's plenty of competition for places."

At November's AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia and Philippines were in different groups, but both shared the common disappointment of failing to advance to the knockout stages.

Malaysia's scheduled 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea on March 28 has been postponed until June, due to security concerns.