Hadi Fayyadh, Finnish-born Nooa Laine join Maloney’s squad


KUALA LUMPUR – After more than a two-year spell in Japan, young striker Muhammad Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak (picture) has returned to training with the National Under-23 (U-23) squad for the first time ahead of the Hanoi SEA Games in Vietnam, next month.

The 22-year-old who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last year, flew to Kuala Lumpur from Japan on Monday just after making his Japan’s third division J3 League debut with the Azul Claro Numazu club last Thursday.

His return to the squad’s training session last night pleased national head coach Brad Maloney.

“It was really good to see him playing in Japan the other day and now he’s here for training with us, and I think he can play a big role in the SEA Games,” Maloney told reporters when met at Institut Penilaian Negara (INSPEN) Sports Complex in Bangi, last night.

Apart from Hadi Fayyadh, new face Nooa Laine, who currently plays with Finnish League club SJK Seinajoki, also reported for national duty yesterday.

However, the 19-year-old midfielder, who is of Malaysian-Finish parentage, won’t make his national team debut in Hanoi after not being registered in Maloney’s squad.

Maloney said Laine’s performance in the training sessions would still be evaluated for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan this June and the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games next September.

Meanwhile, Hadi Fayyadh, who was ‘stranded’ in Japan since the end of 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said that he is at his best fitness level and is ready to fight for a place in the final list of 20 players, thus help the team in Hanoi.

“This is every player’s dream, to play for the country and do one’s best, so I’m back, I really want to go all out and hope to get a good result at the SEA Games,” said Hadi Fayyadh, who will be making his second appearance at the SEA Games after the 2019 edition in the Philippines.

He said the experience he gained in Japan would be put to good use to help the team achieve positive results.

Malaysia, who are drawn in Group B at the biennial Games, are scheduled to face Thailand on May 7, Laos (May 11), Singapore (May 14) and Cambodia (May 16) at Thien Truong Stadium, Nam Dinh to grab one of two slots to the semi-finals. .

In the 2019 edition, the national team under the guidance of Datuk Ong Kim Swee failed to get past the group stage, after winning the silver medal in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur.