EMERGING from the terror of the Covid-19 pandemic, the national football team may find themselves crossing the path of the imposing Golden Dragons twice later this year.
Malaysia could find themselves clashing with Vietnam at least two times as the latter aim to host the AFF Cup (Nov 23-Dec 31).
Before that, Harimau Malaya will take on the Golden Dragons in a World Cup qualifier on Oct 13 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
For national coach Tan Cheng Hoe, Vietnam were not much on his mind 10 years ago.
He was the assistant to Datuk K. Rajaboal when Malaysia won the AFF Cup title in 2010, beating Indonesia in a two-legged final.
But the Golden Dragons have been on the rise since, capturing the AFF Cup in 2018 after chopping down Malaysia 3-2 on aggregate.
In what was seen as psychological war, the Vietnamese even taunted Harimau Malaya for having many naturalised players.
And now Cheng Hoe has to psychologically get his men to face Vietnam two times this year.
While Malaysian players have been inactive in the past three months due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), Vietnamese players have restarted training and played league matches in front of crowds at stadiums.
Apart from Vietnam, Cheng Hoe’s team will have to deal with the United Arab Emirates and Thailand in the World Cup qualifiers.
“We are hoping for some good results but at the same time we’ll see how things go because we have three World Cup qualification matches,” said Cheng Hoe.
“But this doesn’t mean that the AFF Cup is any less important. We will take it one at a time.”
The national team are scheduled to undergo quarantined-based training if the Covid-19 situation does not improve.
Cheng Hoe said he will have to call up a couple of new faces for the national team as injuries are to be expected.
“Once the M-League resumes, there will probably be injuries and some players may not be in good condition.
“This could be taxing on players. After the World Cup qualifiers, we probably may look for one or two replacements, especially young ones (for the AFF Cup)