Cheng Hoe says he needs two weeks to whip the Tigers into shape

  • Football
  • Saturday, 06 Jun 2020

PETALING JAYA: Coach Tan Cheng Hoe (pic) will need at least two weeks to whip his players into shape if he gets the nod to conduct a quarantined centralised training for the national football team.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) are looking at a quarantine-based centralised training approach, similar to the one for the Road to Tokyo (RTT) athletes.

The Harimau Malaya need to be in shape to resume their 2022 World Cup-2023 Asian Cup qualifying campaign as FIFA have proposed that the World Cup qualifiers be held from Oct 5-13.

The M-League’s suspension since March 16 has raised concerns over the players’ fitness ahead of the major assignment.

“It’s good news for us if FAM’s plan gets the approval. We will get to assemble the team to prepare for the crucial qualifying matches. There’s plenty of catching up to do since the MCO kept the players in their homes,” said the former international.

“The players have been training individually at home but this won’t be enough. We need to start from scratch again and it will need time.”

“We also will need to have warm-up or test matches before we play the actual qualifying matches. The players need to rediscover their momentum. It’s not good to have just training without any matches.”

Cheng Hoe’s men kicked off their Group G qualifying campaign by beating Indonesia 3-2 in Jakarta (Sept 5) but suffered two straight defeats – 1-2 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Bukit Jalil (Sept 10) and a 0-1 defeat to Vietnam in Hanoi (Oct 10).

They bounced back in style, beating Thailand 2-1 on Nov 14 and Indonesia 2-0 on Nov 19 in Bukit Jalil to take second place in the group with nine points from five matches. Vietnam top the group with 11 points.

Thailand are third with eight, the UAE fourth with six and a game in hand while Indonesia are at the bottom without a point.

The Harimau Malaya had been scheduled to face the UAE in Dubai on March 26 before hosting Vietnam at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on March 31. However, the matches were postponed following the Covid-19 outbreak.

The team were also scheduled to play Bahrain in a friendly match at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium on March 21.

Cheng Hoe hopes the warm-up against Bahrain could still take place and the news of countries opening up their airports, especially in the Gulf region, was good for the team’s preparation.

“Airports are being opened around the world and this gives us a chance to have a warm-up match in the Gulf region before playing UAE,” added Cheng Hoe.

“The Vietnam League resumed last month, Thai clubs have been training even when their league was suspended. UAE football is also set to resume on June 10, so we have a lot of catching up to do.”

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