Coach: Players need to get ready for pre-World Cup

Coach Tan Cheng Hoe does not want the M-League to be delayed further than necessary as this will not be good for Malaysia’s pre-World Cup campaign.

As it is, there is no official word on when the M-League, which has been suspended since March 16 due to Covid-19, will restart though the government announced on Friday that competitions for team sports can resume from Aug 15 behind closed doors.

It is learnt that most of the 24 M-League teams prefer the
season to resume on Sept 1, which is two weeks later than the
government-announced date of Aug 15.

However, some teams prefer to start earlier, from Aug 15, as this would help to generate income sooner than later.

The organisers of the M-League, the Malaysian Football League (MFL) are still discussing the dates as they face a heavy responsibility for public safety, SOPs and other issues at 20 stadiums around the country.

As for Cheng Hoe, who needs the country’s best players for seven to 10 days of centralised training for the pre-World Cup, the earlier the M-League resumes, the better he can prepare his players.

“The Fifa calendar (Oct 5-13) would allow for seven to 10 days of training.”

If the M-League resumes on the “later date” of Sept 1, Cheng Hoe admitted he has his concerns.

“Definitely for me if the league starts earlier, it’s better because the players would get their confidence, match temperament and competitiveness back.

“Let’s say the league teams do contact training from July 15 to Sept 1, this means a long stretch which could bore the players. But if the league restarts earlier, it will give them more time for the national team.

“With the (national) players expected to play under a tight schedule, they will get lethargic which could lead to injuries, and that is my main concern.”

Cheng Hoe added that he has no plans for the national team to play against local clubs as a warm-up for the pre-World Cup.

However, he said FAM are preparing Harimau Malaya to play Bahrain in Manama.

“So far, there are no plans to have domestic friendlies especially if the league resumes later (Sept 1). It will be difficult for us to call up players to play matches against local clubs.

“But we plan to play an international tier one match against Bahrain on Oct 2.”

In the World Cup qualifiers, Malaysia will play UAE on Oct 8 before meeting Vietnam at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Oct 13.

Cheng Hoe’s men won three of their five pre-World Cup matches last year to sit second in Group G, two points behind Vietnam.

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