Harris upset at cancellation of friendlies

PETALING JAYA: National coach Allan Harris is frustrated that they will not get to play against Norway and Finland, leaving his boys without any friendly matches this month. 

The Englishman said yesterday that it was his plan to get his team to play at least one match a month to keep them in focus following their commendable performance in the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Tiger Cup tournament in Singapore and Jakarta last month. 

Malaysia finished fourth but had beaten eventual champions Thailand 3-1 and hosts Singapore 4-0 in their Group B preliminary fixtures in Singapore.  

“I don't want them to be out from the game too long. From my past experiences, I know that it is not easy to get them back into the right frame of mind once you let them go,” said Harris. 

“The early matches are to keep the boys in focus. That is why it is better to assemble them from time to time. Otherwise they lose touch and we have to start from scratch again.” 

Finland had agreed to play two matches against Malaysia after Norway backed out of the trip. But the Finns have reneged and opted to tour the Middle East instead. 

There are three major assignments for the national teams this year – the pre-Olympics (Under-23) in June; pre-Asia Cup (national team) in August; and the Vietnam SEA Games (Under-23) in December. 

“If we don't get confirmation on matches soon, the players will join their respective teams in pre-season training. It will be better for them to continue training and concentrate on the domestic competitions,” said Harris. 

Some of the state teams will be going on playing tours or friendly tournaments to prepare for the new M-League season kicking off with the Charity Shield match between Penang and Selangor at the State Stadium in Batu Kawan on Feb 9. It is also considered a Premier I tie. 

Harris said he would go on his rounds to keep tabs on the national players before calling them up for various phases of centralised trainings, which will be held in between the league fixtures. 

Malaysia are among the 12 seeded teams for the pre-Olympics. They will see action in the second round against the winners of the match between Turkmenistan and India. 

It will be tough for the seniors in the pre-Asia Cup.  

They are down to play against Bahrain, Iraq and the winners of a preliminary round group comprising Myanmar, Brunei and Maldives. 

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