Coronavirus puts Harimau out of pre-World Cup action for six months

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian football fans looking to this month with great expectations will be disappointed.

Malaysia’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates (March 26), Vietnam (March 31) and Thailand (June 9) have been postponed in view of the coronavirus epidemic.

This decision was relayed to the FA of Malaysia yesterday by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

World body Fifa and AFC have yet to come out with the replacement dates for these postponed matches but for this year, there are only three international windows left — in September, October and November.

This latest development will be met with a frown by national coach Tan Cheng Hoe who earlier expressed his fears that Harimau Malaya might lose their momentum if there are disruptions to the international windows.

The national team are on a good run, having moved to second place in their World Cup qualifying group.

Malaysia had ended 2019 on a high, jumping from World No 158 to 154.

Malaysia moved up the world rankings after winning three out of three matches — beating Tajikistan 1-0 (international friendly), Thailand 2-1 (pre-World Cup) and Indonesia 2-0 (pre-World Cup).

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