KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 ― The national football team, who will be competing in round three of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers next February, are disappointed that their application to hold friendly football matches at the end of this month was not approved by the relevant authorities.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam said they had yet to receive the permission or relaxation that was required to conduct international friendlies during the Fifa window for international matches from August 30 to September 7.
He said the other countries involved could not wait any longer for FAM to obtain permission and had decided to make other plans for their respective teams.
He said that, as such, FAM decided to let the Malaysian Football League (MFL) hold Malaysia League (M-League) matches during that period.
“However, FAM’s focus now is to make early plans and preparations to get new teams for friendlies during the next available Fifa window for international matches, which is from October 4-12.
“This is to prepare the Harimau Malaya squad for the 2020 Asian Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup in December and also the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers from next February. We also hope that our application this time will be taken note of and gets early approval from the relevant authorities,” he said in a statement.
The national team, under coach Tan Cheng Hoe, had earlier made plans for two friendlies, including against Palestine, during the August 30 to September 7 Fifa window for international matches.
Meanwhile, MFL chief executive officer Datuk Ab Ghani Hassan said that several postponed M-League matches, especially those involving Kedah Darul Aman (KDA) FC and Kuching City FC (KCFC) after some of their team members tested positive for Covid-19, would be held during that period.
He said this included the five Super League matches involving KDA FC and seven Premier League games involving KFCF that had to be postponed due to Covid-19.
Ab Ghani said the week 18 Super League matches would begin on August 13 while matches for weeks 19 to 22 would be held from August 20-September 12, with the postponed matches set to be held in between the stipulated Super League and Premier League games.
“So, the final week of the league matches would be held simultaneously,” he said in a separate statement.
“That will be fair in determining the final league standings of the teams, in terms of promotion and relegation as well as places in the qualifiers of the AFC Champions League, AFC Cup, Malaysia Cup and Challenge Cup for next season,” he explained.
Ab Ghani also said that the National Security Council (MKN) had rejected the MFL’s application for only officials and players who tested positive for Covid-19 to undergo the 14-day quarantine, thus players who are close contacts (but not positive) would be required to undergo 10-day quarantine and not allowed to conduct any training sessions during their quarantine period. ― Bernama