KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — A complete and transparent report on the performance of the national squad in the recent 2020 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup campaign needs to be made to ensure that Malaysia does not miss out on the 2023 Asian Cup finals, says Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Datuk Mohd Yusoff Mahadi.

He said the report would facilitate the National Team Management Committee in setting a new direction for the Harimau Malaya squad to qualify for the prestigious tournament.

He said such a report was important to know whether the national team was still on the right track, while the committee could also note all the shortcomings to be addressed.

“Everyone must understand that the results in the AFF Cup showed that there are weaknesses in all aspects, so all parties involved need to prepare a transparent report for the committee to evaluate, and take the necessary actions,” he said when contacted by Bernama, today.

Mohd Yusoff said the reports from the management and coaching staff would be carefully evaluated by the National Team Management Committee chaired by FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin at a meeting scheduled to take place next month.

Mohd Yusoff, who is also the national squad manager, said the main focus of the meeting was to identify the cause of the national team’s failure in achieving FAM’s target of making it to the finals of the 2020 AFF Cup.

He said the meeting would also focus on all the contributing factors to the team’s failures and weaknesses that were evident at the biennial tournament which took place in Singapore.

“We see there are clear hiccups based on the results in the AFF Cup, and shows that there are many things we need to readjust or even improve to ensure this team can be competitive in the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers, because our target is to play in the Asian Cup,” he said, adding that the new roadmap would also take into account the position of the head coach.

The third round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers is scheduled to take place in June next year.

Mohd Yusoff meanwhile said the question of whether FAM was willing to pay a higher salary for a coach would also be discussed in the meeting, if a decision was made on replacing current head coach Tan Cheng Hoe.

The national team has become a hot topic among local fans and critics following the decline in performance, culminating in the 2020 AFF Cup campaign, in which Malaysia as the runners-up of the 2018 edition, failed to make it past the group stage.

Cheng Hoe’s squad finished third in Group B behind traditional rivals Indonesia and defending champions Vietnam.

Following a short and challenging preparation period, especially in terms of player availability, Malaysia started off their campaign well, beating Cambodia 3-1 and Laos 4-0, but then went on to lose 0-3 to Vietnam and 1-4 to Indonesia.

The situation raises questions about Malaysia’s ability to end its wait of more than 40 years to qualify for the Asian Cup on merit, after last doing so in the 1980 edition in Kuwait.

Qualifying for the 2023 Asian Cup is part of the national team’s mission under the FAM Roadmap (F:30). — Bernama