Cheng Hoe to hold training camp after lifeline from Sports Ministry

National Coach Tan Cheng Hoe (left) with physiotherapist S. Sivanasvaran (right) during national team training at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi - PHOTO BY KAMARUL AKHIR / ASIANA.MY

PETALING JAYA: When the government announced the movement control order on several states recently, national football coach Tan Cheng Hoe was resigned to the fact that he will not be able to gather his boys for training in January.

However, he has been thrown a lifeline after the Youth and Sports Ministry allowed the footballers to continue with their preparations for the 2022 World Cup-2023 Asian Cup qualification at the National Sports Council (NSC) in Bukit Jalil albeit strict standard operating procedures.

And Cheng Hoe said he would probably hold the camp next month.

“As we all know, the international window is in March, but in between, we can have something, but we have not finalised anything yet.

“Right now, it is too soon to announce the dates of the camp but if all goes well, it could be next month,” he said.

“I’m thankful that the minister (Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican) allowed us to train in a bubble environment for the qualifiers. Initially, the plan was to just prepare for March if the qualifiers will go on during that window.

“Now that we are allowed to train, we have to do a proper plan because the safety and health of the players and officials are at stake.

“Also, the players will be turning out for their clubs doing pre-season before the new season starts in February.”The centralised training was scheduled from Jan 15-26 but had to be called off following the MCO until Jan 26.

Malaysia are scheduled to meet the United Arab Emirates in Dubai on March 25 before hosting Vietnam on March 30 in the second round matches of Group G.

“I’m just going with the flow because we know how serious the pandemic situation is. For me, safety and health are essential. We do not want to have a football cluster, because if it happens, it would have a bearing on the Malaysian League.

“So we have to be mindful of everything we do. There must be proper planning. I know the players are prepared for any scenario and I always remind them to be mentally focused and physically strong.

“It’s going to be a tight year for them because they have the league and also the qualifiers to think about.”

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