PETALING JAYA: The national footballers for the 2022 World Cup-2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in June in the United Arab Emirates literally received a shot in the arm.
Yesterday, national coach Tan Cheng Hoe and some of the 38 players in the training squad took their first dose of Covid-19 vaccination at the Dewan Seri Seroja in Putrajaya.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin became the first person from the national football body to be vaccinated under the National Immunisation Programme.
Captain Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and others who turned up for the vaccination included Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) players Farizal Marlias and Syafiq Ahmad, Perak’s Shahrul Saad and naturalised national player Guilherme De Paula.
Cheng Hoe said the vaccination went well and was happy to see his players feeling good after it.
“I am feeling good and honestly I didn’t feel anything. We have shortlisted 38 players for the process. The ones who didn’t get the jab on Monday will get it today, ” said Cheng Hoe.
“We are doing this because we want to prepare for the qualifiers. We will be playing friendlies against Bahrain in Manama and Kuwait in Dubai in May.
“Overall, I just want the boys to feel secure and not get too worried before travelling. We just want to be ready for the qualifiers.”
The team will be trimmed down further for the final training camp.
“It will not be suitable to call 38 players for the final preparation. We will bring it down to 26-28 before deciding on the 23 for the qualifiers.
“We can’t reveal the names now, but I will have the core of the team from the previous qualifiers and also those who are based overseas like Junior (Eldstal), Liridon (Krasniqi) and Luqman (Hakim Shamsuddin).”
The team will be leaving for Bahrain on May 19 for two friendly matches in the Middle East before going to Dubai to resume the campaign, which was suspended since early last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Malaysian team are due to play the UAE on June 3, followed by Vietnam (June 11) and Thailand (June 15).