FAM challenge Harimau Malaya to strut their stuff in the Suzuki Cup

Delayed: Dion Cools will only join the Malaysian team after finishing his stint with Danish club FC Midtjylland on Dec 13.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian football has been starved of international glory but it can all change at the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have thrown the gauntlet to Harimau Malaya to reach the final of the regional tournament in Singapore from Dec 6-Jan 2.

FAM deputy president and team manager Datuk Mohd Yusoff Mahadi believed the current set of players can even win the regional competition.

Malaysia’s last memorable success was the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup victory when Datuk K. Rajagopal’s side defeated rivals Indonesia on a 4-2 aggregate in a two-legged final.

Now the challenge is on the shoulders of Rajagopal’s former assistant Tan Cheng Hoe to end the long wait.

The journey however, will not be easy as Malaysia will first have to get past a tough Group B, which comprises defending champions Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.

Yusoff said Cheng Hoe should have enough ideas to improve the team after having good “warm-up” during the friendlies in Jordan.

“The target is the final, then go for the title. We have not had any success for a while. I believe this is our best chance to do so even though others will be equally prepared too,” he said.

“We will not be able to have any more friendlies due to time constraints. The Malaysia Cup only ends on Nov 30, and we’ve to report to Singapore on Dec 3,” he said.

“So it’s not going to be easy holding any games or camps, but I believe the coaches will prepare the team well.”

Malaysia will kick off their Cup campaign against Cambodia on Dec 6 at the Bishan Stadium, followed by Laos (Dec 9), Vietnam (Dec 12) and Indonesia (Dec 19).

Meanwhile, Yusoff said defender Dion Cools would only join Malaysia for the Suzuki Cup when they play against Indonesia. His duty with Danish club FC Midtjylland will only end on Dec 13.

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