Seeking ray of hope

PETALING JAYA: It’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri tomorrow and Terengganu’s coach Nafuzi Zain is helping his loved one bake cookies for the festival– but his thoughts are further away.

The former national midfielder is preparing training programmes and tactics for the players he hopes he can see again after Hari Raya.

The 41-year-old tactician said most teams in the Super League were itching to resume training, especially after seeing countries like South Korea and Germany restarting their top divisions.

The Malaysian Football League (MFL) have said teams would need to follow the SOP for training and matches based on instructions of the National Security Council, Health Ministry and Youth and Sports Ministry as well as the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA.

It has been suggested that training would resume in August, but teams are hopeful the authorities would allow them to start earlier.

“We need at least two months to prepare. I have drawn up some plans with the coaching staff, and we cannot wait to have our first session since the league was suspended on March 16,” said Nafuzi, who was part of the “Olympic 2000” squad under Tunisian coach Hatem Souissi.

“It is best to start after Hari Raya because they would be motivated and eager to play. However, we are all aware that permission is needed, so our club are working with the relevant authorities.”

Instead of the usual training plans, Nafuzi, a Kelantan player in his heyday, said he had modified his tactics for the new normal as he anticipates stringent standard operating procedures (SOP) to be imposed.

He said the safety and health of the players would not be compromised, and is happy with what he has seen so far from the boys in their indoor workouts.

“It is not a simple business now. Every player has to be assessed, and sessions will be different because contact is not encouraged. As we can see, a lot of guidelines have been placed on European clubs. The same thing will happen to us too.”

But he is ready to start at the snap of a finger as he knows all his players are in Malaysia, except for Faris (Ramli), who went back to Singapore.

The MFL have proposed that this year’s Super League resume with only a single round that will have seven matches in a month, instead of the standard two-round home-and- away format.

Terengganu, however, will have eight matches to play as they could not complete their fourth fixture against Petaling Jaya City on March 15.

“Nobody expected this, but that’s the way it is. MFL tried their best, and this was the best solution.

“For me, it is better than having nothing. We will savour the eight matches.”

For the next couple of days though, Nafuzi will be enjoying the savouries lined up for Hari Raya.

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