KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 – All three foreign-based players named by national football head coach Tan Cheng Hoe for the second phase of centralized training will not report for training in Kuala Lumpur on May 16.
Instead, the trio – Luqman Hakim Shamsudin who is with KV Kortrijk (Belgium), Junior Eldstal (Chonburi FC, Thailand), and Liridon Krasniqi (Newcastle Jets, Australia), – will fly straight to Bahrain to meet up with the rest of the national squad.
Malaysia has tight standard operating procedures (SOP) for Covid-19 for those arriving in the country from overseas and includes a two-week quarantine.
This is one of the reasons why the trio has been given the green light to fly to Bahrain from their respective places.
Cheng Hoe has shortlisted 38 players for the second phase of centralised training. The big number for the second is just to make sure there are replacements in case of injuries during the ongoing Malaysian Football League.
According to Cheng Hoe, 26-28 players will be named for the trip to the Middle East before 23 players are named for the qualifiers.
The remaining matches from Group G in the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers will be played on a carnival basis in Dubai.
Penang goalkeeper Samuel Somerville will replace injured Rahadiazli Rahalim of Terengganu.
Somerville himself is injured but is expected to recover. He was one of the players in the first batch who got their Covid-19 vaccinations in Putrajaya on Monday, together with Cheng Hoe and other coaching staff.
Harimau Malaya will play two friendly matches – against Bahrain and Kuwait – before resuming their campaign in the qualifiers.
Malaysia’s remaining Group G matches are against UAE on June 3, Vietnam on June 11, and Thailand on June 15.