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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — The Malaysia Football League (MFL) has cancelled the 2021 FA Cup and deferred the start of the Malaysian League (M-League) to March 5 due to the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) in the country.
MFL chief executive officer Datuk Ab Ghani Hassan said the FA Cup was dropped from this year’s calendar to avoid burdening teams with a tight competition schedule which might affect the quality of the M-League.
“MFL has also decided that the Super League, Premier League, Malaysia Cup and Challenge Cup will proceed under the 2021 M-League calendar,” he said in a statement here today.
The MCO will be in force until February 4 in all states except Sarawak, where only certain areas of the state are placed under the movement restriction order.
Last year, MFL had to cancel the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup competitions due to the Covid-19 pandemic while the Super League and Premier League season was cut short.
Ab Ghani said the decision to postpone the M-League kick-off from the earlier scheduled date of February 26 was reached at the special meeting of MFL Board which was held virtually and based on the views and agreement of team representatives at a special briefing yesterday.
He said MFL would provide certain mechanisms like tighter standard operating procedure (SOP) for training and SOP for quarantine-based centralised training to ensure this football season would be run more effectively in a safe environment amid the Covid-19 threat.
“Everyone knows that the Covid-19 pandemic has reached a very worrying level, apart from the fact that the MCO status is also a factor, but MFL wants to be prepared early.
“Apart from partners’ request for at least three weeks of preparation before the MFL kicks off, MFL also took into consideration the World Cup 2022/Asian Cup 2023 qualifying round, Asian Champions League (ACL) and AFC Cup, which led to the consensus to amend the M-League date.
“MFL has cooperated with the National Sports Council regarding the training SOP, and we will again table this proposal to the National Security Council and Health Ministry to ensure this season’s M-League can be conducted without being interrupted by Covid-19,” he said.
According to the original schedule, the curtain raiser for the M-League is the Charity Shield match to vie for the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup between last season’s Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and runners-up Kedah Darul Aman FC at Stadium Sultan Ibrahim in Iskandar Puteri on February 26.
Ab Ghani said MFL also had several other mechanisms to start the 2021 M-League campaign if the MCO is extended beyond February 4. — Bernama