KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The Sabah football team will not be able to join the 2020 Malaysia Cup campaign which kicks off on November 6, due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is still raging in the state.
Malaysian Football League (MFL) chief executive officer Datuk Ab Ghani Hassan while confirming that the prestigious tournament will continue on schedule said the Sabah squad could not obtain clearance from the National Security Council (MKN) to leave the state due to the conditional movement control order (CMCO) which has been extended until November 9.
“Therefore, the team drawn against Sabah in the first round of the Malaysia Cup 2020 will be given a 3-0 victory and qualify directly to the quarterfinals. Sabah remains a Super League team for the 2021 season and no punishment will be imposed on Sabah for this issue,” he said in a statement.
He said Sabah’s final Super League match against UiTM FC in Melaka which had been postponed from October 11 to October 31, was also called off, with the latter being handed a 3-0 victory.
The result sees Sabah end the 2020 Super League campaign in 10th place out of 12 teams after collecting nine points, while UiTM FC moved up to sixth with 17 points.
Commenting on the teams under CMCO in the Peninsula such as Selangor, Petaling Jaya (PJ) City FC, UiTM FC and Kuala Lumpur, Ab Ghani said MFL would help the clubs play at Green Zone venues.
The Malaysia Cup will have to be played in a knockout format this year due to time constraints following a long delay due to Covid-19, and the draw will be held on November 1, with the first round matches on November 6, 7 and 8. The quarterfinals will be held on November 12 and 13, the semi-finals on November 17, and the final on November 22.
The MFL Board of Directors also decided that the Super League promotion and relegation format would remain the same, while there would be no relegation from the Premier League following the cancellation of the 2020 M3 League.
Meanwhile, Sabah head coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto accepted the decision with an open heart and believed that the call by MKN was for the safety and wellbeing of all parties concerned.
“Of course the decision is still a shock to us all, but the players and I understand this, and we must comply with the directives of the MKN and the government, so as concerned citizens, we accept this decision,” he said, adding that this would not upset their plans to prepare well for next season. — Bernama