National coach Tan Cheng Hoe will give as many youth players a chance to stake a claim in his squad as he builds up to the AFF Cup at the end of the year. (FIle pix)

KUALA LUMPUR: National coach Tan Cheng Hoe will give as many youth players a chance to stake a claim in his squad as he builds up to the AFF Cup at the end of the year.

Nine players from the national Under-23 squad were selected for Malaysia's friendly match against Mongolia in Bukit Jalil on March 22 and an Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon in Beirut five days later.

With a total of nine uncapped players in his squad including naturalised duo Natxo Insa and La'Vere Corbin-Ong, Cheng Hoe also wants to give the new players time to gain experience and forge an understanding with each other.

"This team are an indication of the squad that could play at the AFF Cup but there will be some changes between now and then," said Cheng Hoe, who announced his first national squad of 29 players on Tuesday.

"Although there a number of young players, some of them have international experience already. The others have played at Under-23 level so I don't think a lack of experience in international football is a problem."

Players from the AFC Under-23 Championship side that reached the quarter-finals in January have been rewarded for their performances in China.

Matthew Davies (14 caps), Safawi Rashid (six), Nor Azam Azih (two) and Adam Nor Azlin (one) are the Under-23 players who have turned out for the senior squad before while Akhyar Rashid, Irfan Zakaria, Syazwan Andik Ishak, Syahmi Safari and Haziq Nadzli are new.

"If you look at Europe, Under-23 players are knocking on the door of the senior teams and I believe our youth players are capable of matching their seniors," said Cheng Hoe, who succeeded Nelo Vingada as national coach in December after the Portuguese quit on the back of a seven-match winless run.

When Malaysia meet Mongolia, Cheng Hoe is hoping to end the national team's run of 10 matches without a win since November 2016 which has seen the country's Fifa ranking slide to an all-time low of 175th.

Victory over Mongolia would give the side a confidence boost ahead of meeting Asian Cup qualifying Group B leaders Lebanon.

"We cannot qualify for the Asian Cup but as a coach I don't want to lose when we go to Lebanon," said Cheng Hoe.

"It's important, especially for the new players, to put in a positive performance."

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