KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 — The Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) hopes to host the third-round qualifiers of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Hasrat scheduled this June will require the ‘blessing’ of the government for it to happen.

According to FAM deputy president Datuk Mohd Yusoff Mahadi, Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), including quarantining individuals entering the country, has turned out to be a matter of concern for the AFC.

“We (FAM) are trying to be the hosts, but I have some information that the SOP and quarantine will be a bit of a setback to our bid. There is some concern within the AFC if the government does not allow the qualifiers to take place if there is a sudden rise in cases.

“If we have a guarantee that the qualifiers will still go on, we feel we have a good chance of holding the qualifiers in Malaysia this year,” he told reporters recently.

Mohd Yusoff said FAM had no problems where the cost of organising the qualifiers were concerned but a government guarantee was imperative to realise the association’s hopes of seeing the Harimau Malaya squad playing on their home ground.

He added that the Bukit Jalil National Stadium would be the main venue, while other venues would be discussed at a later date.

For the third-round qualifiers, 24 teams will be drawn into six groups, with only the best 11 teams joining the other 13 teams that have qualified to the 2023 Asian Cup scheduled to take place in China next year, from June 16 to July 16. — Bernama