PUTRAJAYA, April 19 — The Covid-19 vaccine shots the Harimau Malaya players received today will help them to be fully focused on the second round of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June, said national skipper Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak.
He acknowledged that the vaccination would take away their fear of being infected by Covid-19.
“I hope they (his teammates) will be more confident and not afraid of the threat posed by Covid-1. I did not feel any pain when I was inoculated just now unlike getting the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine against tuberculosis) shot. Alhamdulillah, even now I don’t feel anything,” he said.
He told reporters this after receiving the first dose of the vaccine jab under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme together with more than 40 other players and officials from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) at Dewan Seri Seroja here today.
The Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) defender, however, admitted that he was initially reluctant to get the jab after hearing news about how 40 Ministry of Health (MOH) personnel recently contracted Covid-19 despite having completed their second dose of vaccination.
However, Aidil Zafuan, who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine jab, was able to heave a huge sigh of relief after he and his teammates were given a further briefing by the programme’s medical officers.
“My teammates were also worried but after looking at how we were vaccinated, I feel that there is no need to doubt whether the vaccine is good or not,” he added.
The 33-year-old veteran also thanked the Youth and Sports Ministry for giving the national football squad the priority to receive the vaccine jab.
Meanwhile, national coach Tan Cheng Hoe has described the vaccine jab as being “very beneficial”, especially in allaying his team’s fears on the health and safety aspects, thus allowing them to remain focused on their mission in the UAE.
The Harimau Malaya squad are expected to receive their second dose of the vaccine jab on May 10 before they regroup on May 16 for a centralised training camp ahead of leaving for the UAE on May 20.
Malaysia will take on hosts UAE on June 3, Vietnam on June 11 and Thailand on June 15 in their three remaining Group G fixtures as they seek an automatic slot in the 2023 Asian Cup Finals and, thus, qualify for the third round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The national team are also set to play two friendlies prior to the second round of the qualifiers, against Kuwait (May 23) and Bahrain (May 28). — Bernama