Cheng Hoe likely to retain key Harimau Malaya players for World Cup qualifiers

National head coach Tan Cheng Hoe speaks to the media during a training session for Harimau Malaya in preparation for the Group G second round World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifier September 5, 2019. — Bernama pic
National head coach Tan Cheng Hoe speaks to the media during a training session for Harimau Malaya in preparation for the Group G second round World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifier September 5, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Harimau Malaya chief coach Tan Cheng Hoe has hinted that he would likely retain the majority of the team for the remaining matches of the World Cup 2022/Asian Cup 2023 second qualifying round in October.

The Kedah-born coach said he would also monitor other players in the Malaysian League (M-League) with a view to calling up those who impressed to attend centralised training for the qualifiers.

“As they have not been together since November last year, I hope they still have a good understanding of each other’s game.

“This is mainly why I want to retain the key players for better planning, but I will also be on the lookout for other players and assess their current form,” he said in a statement issued by the Malaysia Football League (MFL) today.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has postponed several remaining matches of the World Cup 2022/Asian Cup 2023 second qualifying round in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If the AFC’s latest plans are approved by the International Football Federation, Malaysia will play the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Oct 8 in Dubai and Vietnam on Oct 13 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Cheng Hoe also hoped that the M-League, which has been suspended since March 16 because of the coronavirus outbreak, would resume so that players called up for centralised training could maintain their mental and physical fitness.

He said the players’ physical sharpness and motivation would be affected if the M-League was cancelled this year.

“If the league can resume in September, at least the players have something to prepare for in the next few months rather just doing self-training at home,” he added. — Bernama

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