PETALING JAYA, June 13 — Harimau Malaya are expected to face top-ranked teams in the 2024 Merdeka Tournament this September, according to Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary-general Datuk Noor Azman Rahman.

He said the teams to be invited for the tournament will be those from Pot 1 and Pot 2 of the 2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers, to prepare the national squad under the guidance of Kim Pan Gon for the prestigious cup qualifiers.

“We will organise the Merdeka Tournament by inviting four teams, and it will be held in September. But we haven’t decided which teams yet. We will send out invitations next month.

“We will likely invite teams from Pot 1 and Pot 2 (2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers) since we already know the unofficial Pot 1 and Pot 2 teams available on social media,” he said at a press conference after the 11th FAM Executive Committee Meeting at Wisma FAM here today.


Based on current rankings, Malaysia are the best team from Pot 2 along with the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Singapore and Yemen, while Pot 1 consists of Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Lebanon and India.

Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh fill Pot 3, while Bhutan, Laos, Pakistan and three playoff winners will be in Pot 4.

Tajikistan, India and Palestine were invited for the 2023 Merdeka Tournament, where Harimau Malaya finished second after being defeated by Tajikistan in the final last October.


Meanwhile, FAM deputy president Datuk Wira Yusoff Mahadi said Harimau Malaya will also play friendly matches against Pot 1 and Pot 2 teams of the 2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers during the international match window this October.

Yusoff also praised the performance of the Harimau Malaya squad, who managed to earn 10 points in Group D despite not qualifying for the third round of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers.

“It is a good result although we were not fortunate enough to reach the next stage. However, in terms of points and winning against lower-ranked teams, we did well. Drawing with Kyrgyzstan was a good achievement,” he said.

Commenting on the status of Pan Gon, Yusoff said the South Korean coach will continue to lead the Harimau Malaya squad until his contract expires next year. — Bernama