KUALA LUMPUR – The Harimau Malaya squad are relieved by news that they can assemble for centralised training during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, the first time they will be in camp in more than a year.
Team manager Datuk Mohd Yusoff Mahadi said the quarantine-based training camp would give chief coach Tan Cheng Hoe precious time to prepare the squad for their World Cup 2022/Asian Cup 2023 qualifying campaign in March.
Malaysia is scheduled to play two crucial qualifying matches in their campaign, against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam.
“This greenlight gives us the space to whip the national team into better shape. All this while other teams have been training but we have been lying idle. Just imagine taking on UAE without any preparation,” he told Bernama today.
Yesterday, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican confirmed that the ministry together with the National Sports Council (MSN) and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) had reached agreement to conduct quarantine-based centralised training for the national team at MSN in Bukit Jalil.
The national team, who last attended centralised training in November 2019, were supposed to report to camp this month but their plan had been foiled by the implementation of the MCO from Jan 13 to 26.
Mohd Yusoff, who is FAM deputy president, said he was leaving it to Cheng Hoe and his coaching team to fix the dates for centralised training.
He hoped Cheng Hoe would decide fast to make it easier for players to get release from their teams.
“We can then make the necessary arrangements, like on the quarantine method. We also need to liaise with the players’ teams and MSN, and this takes time.
“Whether it is quarantine-based or not, to me the important thing is it allows the players to be gathered together for Tan to draw up his plan, especially on match strategy,” said Mohd Yusoff.
Malaysia is in a good position to qualify for the final round of Asian Cup 2023 as they are lying second in Group G of the World Cup 2022/Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers with nine points from five matches.