PETALING JAYA: Having the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in Malaysia could be advantageous to the fortunes of the national team.
National team coach Tan Cheng Hoe believes so and is now hoping that the Malaysian government and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) can work together to host the qualifier.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have changed the Asian Cup final round qualifiers from the home-and-away format to single round-robin ties to be played in centralised venues due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The AFC said that the final round will be held on June 8, 11 and 14 next year, with the governing body opening the bidding process in due course to countries interested in hosting those games.
The national team had played the pre-World Cup-Asian Cup qualifying at the centralised venue in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June and friendlies in Amman, Jordan, earlier this month.
The Harimau Malaya clearly missed the vociferous home support in both assignments and it affected the players’ performance.
Cheng Hoe said having supporters to lift the players morale at the stadium will be an advantage to the national players.
He added that the relaxed and controlled Covid-19 situation in the country is a positive sign for Malaysia to host the final round of the Asian Cup qualifiers.
“We missed the home crowd support... our supporters at the stadium had always given the team a positive impact. We missed the support in the UAE and Amman.
“We will only have three matches to play in the group, so being the host of the qualifier is very crucial.
“We will need all the advantages we can get in qualifiers.
“We had played at a centralised venue in the two last assignments and in the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup, we will be playing in Singapore as well. I hope these experiences will make the players better if we have to play away again.”