The draw for the 2020 AFC U-19 Championship on Thursday saw Malaysia placed in Group D, alongside Qatar, Yemen and Tajikistan.
The finals, which will be held in Uzbekistan from October 14 to 31, will also provide the eventual semi-finalists with a spot in the 2021 U-20 World Cup.
— AFC (@theafcdotcom) June 18, 2020
Interestingly, although all three of Malaysia's group opponents look to be formidable opponents, the players that make up the current Malaysia U-19 team have beaten Tajikistan before. When they were playing for Malaysia U-16, they thumped Tajikistan 6-2 in the opening match of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship finals, which was hosted by Malaysia. However, the hosts would end up crashing out of the competition early, while Tajikistan would bounce back to end the campaign as finalists and World Cup participants.
In an interview published by the Malaysian FA (FAM), team manager Datuk Kamarul Ariffin Shahar revealed the competition target, as well as that the Young Tigers will undergo centralised training overseas before heading to Uzbekistan.
"We will see the government's post-Covid-19 policy on overseas travels, although we haven't finalised our centralised camp destination yet. But for now we will be training domestically first.
"This is not an easy group although I believe our team will be giving a fight in order to reach the junior World Cup, which has been our target from the beginning," he explained.
Kamarul also revealed that US-based Wan Kuzri Wan Kamal is likely to be called up for the competition. The teenager who was born there to Malaysian parents is currently training with United Soccer League side Saint Louis FC's youth team.
"Kuzri has been contacted personally by head coach Brad Maloney, and we are in the final stages of securing his particpation. It's confirmed and he is eager to represent Malaysia
"We are trying to discuss how to bring him home because the government is yet to allow travellers to enter the country yet," he noted.