Borneo teams up in the air

Play time: Sabah midfielder Azzizan Nordin (front) in action during the Super League match against Police at the KLFA Stadium on March 1.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Football League (MFL) have to consider the plight of Sabah and Sarawak before finalising the new football fixtures. Sabah and Sarawak do not want to take frequent flights to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19.

This is the plea from the Sabah Football Association (SAFA) as the MFL and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) look into restarting the league in September. The Super League is expected to start on Sept 1, followed by the Premier League on Sept 2.

The league was suspended on March 16 and will be shortened to seven matches when it resumes.

SAFA president Datuk Peter Anthony pointed out that the Sabah and Sarawak–based teams would have to travel by air for matches in the peninsula and they could not afford to fly frequently in a short span of time.

“The flight cost is high and when the season resumes, it doesn’t mean that the Covid-19 will disappear. Teams will have to travel by flight and stay in hotels and they are exposed more to the virus,” said Peter.

“We hope FAM and MFL will look into the matter and make the necessary studies on the fixtures of teams from Borneo.”

Last week, FAM secretary–general Stuart Ramalingam had hinted that football activities in the country would resume early as the number of Covid-19 cases are constantly decreasing.

The MFL had also proposed for teams to start training in August but it looks like the training may even start as early as next week and the M-League may restart in August.

Peter said the Rhinos were just awaiting the green light from the FAM and MFL to return to the field.

“With the MFL’s plan to resume the M-League in September, we want to be ready and competitive,” said Peter.

“We’re back in the top-flight Super League this season after some time, and we don’t want to just make up the numbers in the league. We want to give the other teams a good challenge and finish as high as possible in the league standings.”

The Rhinos are placed fourth in the 12–team league standings after four matches with five points, thanks to a win, two draws, and a defeat.

Coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto’s men kicked off their campaign with a goalless draw against Police in Kuala Lumpur before beating Felda United 3-1 in Likas.

Th 2019 Premier League champions then suffered a 0-2 loss to Pahang in Kuantan before holding Perak 2-2 in Likas.

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