Arif, widely regarded as one of Malaysian football's brightest talents, was a surprising omission when coach Tan Cheng Hoe named his preliminary squad of 28, having initially not even been among the three players on standby.
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But the Football Association of Malaysia announced on Thursday that he was called up to the training squad, before officially being selected on Friday morning when Harimau Malaya confirmed their final roster.
Naturalised winger Mohamadou Sumareh was arguably the biggest name missing from the final team, while former young gun Darren Lok -- who has not represented the country since 2017 - did not make the cut.
Interestingly, newly-crowned Malaysia Cup champions Kuala Lumpur City, who pulled off a stunning 2-0 win over JDT in Tuesday's final to end a 32-year title drought in the competition, have no representatives after both Akram Mahinan and Kenny Pallraj were among those axed by Tan.
Malaysia, whose first and only Suzuki Cup triumph came in 2010, begin their Group B campaign on Dec. 6 against Cambodia and then meet Laos and defending champions Vietnam, before finishing up on Dec. 19 against fierce rivals Indonesia.
Malaysia's final squad for AFF Suzuki Cup 2020
Goalkeepers: Khairul Fahmi (Melaka United), Khairulazhan Khalid (Selangor), Kalamullah Al-Hafiz (Petaling Jaya City)
Defenders: Rizal Ghazali, Dominic Tan (Sabah), Aidil Zafuan, Shahrul Saad (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Dion Cools (Midtjylland), Quentin Cheng (Penang), Junior Eldstal (Chonburi), Syahmi Safari (Selangor), Arif Fadzilah (Terengganu), Ariff Farhan (Kedah Darul Aman)
Midfielders: Safawi Rasid, Arif Aiman, Akhyar Rashid, Syafiq Ahmad (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Baddrol Bakhtiar (Sabah), Mukhairi Ajmal (Selangor), Faisal Abdul Halim (Terengganu), Kogileswaran Raj (Petaling Jaya City)
Forwards: Guilherme (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Luqman Hakim Shamsudin (Kortrijk), Shahrel Fikri Fauzi (Selangor)