And Maloney’s first task will be to face the Young Socceroos in an AFF U18s tournament next month.

The 47-year-old former Perth Glory and Marconi midfielder was appointed Malaysia U19s head coach two weeks ago.

“It’ll be interesting and a little surreal coaching as a head coach against Australia," he told FTBL. “My own country, one I represented with great pride, but definitely looking forward to it.

"It’s going to be a challenge. Australia is very strong.”

The group is Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia.

The Young Socceroos will be coached by another former Marconi player, Gary Van Egmond, who was part of a recent reordering of FFA's national coaching staff after working with the Matildas. 

“I’d expect Australia to be favorite and win this whole tournament," added Maloney. “So, a big challenge for me and a good test for our players, to see what level our players are at.

“Hopefully this gives us a good foundation leading into the AFC qualifiers in November.”

Maloney will get his first look at his 30 players this Saturday before reducing the squad to 23 for the tournament.

Many of them play in U18 or U21 leagues in Malaysia.

Maloney has worked in South-East Asia for the last five years, employed as an assistant coach in the Malaysian national team set-ups alongside Ong Kim Swee.

It’s his first head coach role in Malaysia.

“I”m grateful to the Federation for giving me this opportunity," he said. “What I want to help continue is the continuity between the U19s and the U23s.

"The way we want them to play. They’ll have the same playing style when they transition into the 23s," he said. 

The Sydneysider, who is currently studying his pro licence in Malaysia, will have around two weeks with his youngsters before departing for the AFF tournament in Ho Chi Minh City next month.

He will combine this with a dual role as an assistant role in Malaysia’s U23s.

Next month’s AFF tournament will provide his 19s with a valuable experience ahead of AFC qualifiers in November (qualifying for the 2020 AFC Championships).

Maloney added: “There has always been raw talent here. The federation here has worked hard in restructuring their development programs.

“The reasonable success we’ve had in the 23s and seeing a number of them transition into the national team says to me the game here is on the rise."