THE virus is kicking the M-League fixtures upside down yet again. After Covid-19 forced the M-League to be abandoned for five months since March, it is playing havoc with the prestigious Malaysia Cup competition.
The Malaysian Football League (MFL) have already postponed it once, from Oct 16 to Oct 25 but to no avail as the contagion has not been contained.
Even before kickoff, the Malaysia Cup had to be diluted, with MFL “cutting corners” by scrapping the group stages and making it a direct knockout involving 16 teams because of Covid-19.
The Malaysia Cup will now be delayed for two weeks due to the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) being imposed in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from Oct 14 to Oct 27. Another factor is the outbreak in Sabah.
The teams who have qualified for the Malaysia Cup and affected directly by
the CMCO are Selangor, Petaling Jaya City FC, UiTM FC, Kuala Lumpur and Sabah.
The MFL announced yesterday that the Malaysia Cup draw (involving 11 Super League teams and five Premier League teams) will take place on Nov 1.
The first match of the revised fixtures will be played on Nov 6 with the Malaysia Cup final scheduled for Nov 22.
MFL chief executive officer Datuk Ab Ghani Hassan sounds hopeful that the Malaysia Cup competition will still be held after all the difficulties.
“For now we are still targeting for the Malaysia Cup to be played.
“This reschedule is in line with the safety measures taken by the Sports
Ministry, National Security Council
and Health Ministry which forbid any sporting activities during the CMCO period,” he said in a statement yesterday.
“Following the revised format, there’s still time for the Malaysia Cup to be played.”
However, the revised Malaysia Cup schedule could also lead to a clash of dates for newly crowned Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) who will be playing in the AFC Champions League (ACL).
The ACL recommences its group stages on Nov 19, and JDT will be involved.
The Southern Tigers are expected to qualify for the Malaysia Cup semi-finals, scheduled for Nov 17, but around that time they will be heading to Qatar for the Asian challenge.
JDT’s remaining ACL group matches are against Guangzhou Evergrande (Nov 19), Suwon Bluewings (Nov 25), Vissel Kobe (Nov 1) and Guangzhou Evergrande (Dec 4).
There is very little possibility of the JDT team flying in and out of Qatar just to compete in the Malaysia Cup.
However, JDT could resort to using players from JDT II if they progress to the Malaysia Cup semi-finals.
Meanwhile, the two postponed matches involving Sabah-UiTM in the Super League, and Kuala Lumpur-Kuching FA in the Premier League have been shifted to Oct 31 from last week.