KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 – With the latest extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) national football coach, Tan Cheng Hoe is racing against time to gather his national squad to prepare for the Group G matches in the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers.
Cheng Hoe is hoping there will be no changes to the proposed quarantine-based training in Bukit Jalil as proposed by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
The former international is keeping his fingers crossed that there will be a “positive outcome” on the matter from the FA of Malaysia (FAM) on Wednesday (Feb 3).
Due to time constraints, Cheng Hoe is not likely to bring in new faces into the national squad although he wanted to give newcomers a call-up.
“It is most unlikely I will bring in newcomers. Time is against us. I would rather depend on the ‘tried and tested’ as they know what is expected from them,” said Cheng Hoe when contacted.
For Cheng Hoe, the MCO has given him sleepless nights because the Harimau Malaya have yet to start training while the rest of the rivals have been training and even played friendly matches. Except for Malaysia, rest of the countries have their leagues in progress.
Malaysia is currently in second place behind leaders Vietnam with nine points after five matches.
Vietnam leads the group with 11 points, Thailand third on eight followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on six with a game in hand.
Malaysia is scheduled to play UAE in Dubai on March 25 followed by a home match against Vietnam on March 15 and complete their fixtures against Thailand on June 15.
However, Malaysia, UAE, and Thailand have asked for a postponement of the matches to June.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has not decided on the matter as Vietnam has not given a reply to the June suggestion.
There is also a suggestion for the matches to be played on a carnival basis in Dubai.
On Tuesday, Senior Minister of Defense, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the National Security Council (NSC) agreed to extend the MCO 2.0 throughout the country (except Sarawak) after a high-level meeting on the same day.
The current MCO was scheduled to end on Thursday (Feb 4). It will now be extended from Feb 5 to Feb 18.

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