PETALING JAYA, Nov 12 – The national squad for this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore is yet to be named – thanks to the crammed Malaysia Cup fixtures with the quarter-finals yet to be played.
Yet we have national football manager Datuk Yusoff Mahadi talking about winning the Asean football title.
Isn’t this putting pressure on head coach Tan Cheng Hoe and his coaching panel but also the team?
Yusoff, (the deputy president of the FA of Malaysia) recent statement of winning the Asean silverware after more than a decade is simply outrageous.
However, Yusoff, who hails from Melaka, has put extra pressure not only on the team but also on head coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
Cheng Hoe yearns to have at least one friendly for the Harimau Malaya but this is out of his reach.
Blame it on the tight fixtures and the Malaysian Football League (MFL) is to be blamed for this shortcoming. Sad to say the MFL has not been that friendly when it comes to the national team.
Without doubt, Cheng Hoe has his players in the call-up list but at the same time he is keeping his fingers crossed that none of the core players will pick up injuries with the first-leg Malaysia Cup quarter-final matches scheduled for this Sunday and the return-leg on Thursday.
Remember, the Harimau Malaya will fly off to Singapore on Dec 3 without a friendly match before facing Cambodia in the opening on Dec 6.
This is followed by a match against Laos (Dec 9) and Vietnam (the defending champions) on Dec 12. Malaysia complete their fixtures against Indonesia on Dec 19.
Is Yusoff confidently saying that Malaysia can overcome the challenges of their rival in Group B?
Vietnam and Indonesia have been football rivals for a long time. Do not underrate Cambodia and Laos. So, Yusoff, let’s talk about the group matches first before we talk about the final or the title!
Of course we want our Harimau Malaya rise and bring the trophy back we last won in 2010 under coach Datuk K. Rajagobal – just a year after he led the team to the football gold medal in the SEA Games in Laos.
Cheng Hoe, is certain to leave out some names who have not been able to get ”playing time” with their clubs.
At the same time, however, Cheng Hoe, will welcome the return of Shahrul Saad from injury to add strength in the backline.
The former Perak player is now with eight-time Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim. He made his debut for JDT with a goal in the Southern Tigers 4-0 win over Kelantan FC in a Malaysia Cup Group match.
Some of the names not in the call up list may include Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Liridon Kraniqi and Samuel Somerville.
Krasniqi is currently with an Indian club after leaving Newcastle Jets in Australia where he hardly got playing minutes.
Also out of the list is Terengganu defender Shahrul Nizam Ros Hasni, who went missing hours before the team left for a two-match playing tour of Jordan in October. Shahrul, instead, was later confirmed to have gone fishing in the South China Sea.
National Under-23 goalkeeper Azri Ghani is set to feature in Cheng Hoe’s team to the AFF Suzuki Cup. The other goalkeepers are Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Khairul Azhan Khalid
and Farizal Marlias.

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