Penang winger S. Kumaahran says he's delighted at the prospect of a reunion with Datuk Ong Kim Swee in August's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Ong has returned to his former role of overseeing Malaysia's under-22 side after Portugal's Nelo Vingada replaced him as senior national coach earlier this month.
Kumaahran, 20, worked under Ong at the 2015 SEA Games after catching the coach's eye as the Malaysians won the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Dhaka earlier that year.
"Coach Kim Swee knows me well from my time under him with the previous SEA Games squad," he told The Star.
"I think I'm a better player now, having gained more experience playing for Penang in the Super League.
"I scored in the 1-0 win over Felda United in April, and it's a big boost for me after missing most of the season with an ankle injury.
The under-22 squad gathered for centralised training at Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) headquarters in Kelana Jaya over the weekend.
The 2017 Malaysia Super League (MSL) season has been a steep learning curve for bottom-placed Penang. Even so, Kumaahran hopes his senior level experience will help him at the SEA Games on home soil.
"We are having the SEA Games in KL, so obviously we want to win it. But we need to prepare carefully for it," he said.
"It will be tough, but I believe we have a good squad and can give teams like Thailand a tough fight."
The U22 squad will leave for Xiangtan, China, on June 8 for a training tour, which will include a June 10 game against their Chinese counterparts.
They will return home on June 16 and continue training at FAM until June 23 before the resumption of the 2017 MSL season.