KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 – Dubai will be remembered for the rest of his life by national football head coch Tan Cheng Hoe as it has undergone a complete change over the last four days.
The 53-year-old lost his father Tan Chooi Siak, 95, died of old age, just hours before Malaysia faced Vietnam on June 11. Cheng Hoe, however, stayed back to be with the team.
Also – hours before Malaysia face Thailand in their final Group G match of the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers on Tuesday (12.45am on Wednesday, June 16) Chooi Siak’s funeral will take place in Alor Setar. The late Chooi Siak will be cremated.
Cheng Hoe, to a certain extent, is drained emotionally and mentally after losing his beloved father.
Grief is always there but he has been pulling through with his family’s support and blessings to remain with the team in Dubai as it is a ”national duty” – and he hopes his prayers will be answered when the Harimau Malaya play Thailand.
A win will ease Malaysia’s qualification to the Asia Cup Finals instead of going through a longer journey via playoffs.
Cheng Hoe will also have to plan his match strategies without three players – Mohamadou Sumareh, Syamer Kutty Abba and Corbin Ong.
The trio, who ply their football trade with Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), are serving a one-match suspension for yellow card offences.
”It is the toughest time for me. However, my family has given me the blessings to shoulder national duty and other responsibilities in Dubai. I am sure my late dad would have wanted me to do the same.
”I loved him very much. He meant a lot to me. There is vast emptiness in me and painful too. No words can describe and express my grief on what I am going through. Father was an inspiration to me,” said Cheng Hoe from Dubai with his voice choked with emotions.
With Malaysia yet to register a win in second round matches in Dubai, it has taken a toll on him.
However, he is putting up a brave front with hopes that the team could be able to repeat the success in the first-round match in Kuala Lumpur in 2019 when Malaysia won 2-1.
On who will replace the suspended trio, Cheng Hoe says he has several options and will only decide on the team hours before the match.
(*Pic credit to FAM Media)

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