FAM mull over the idea of forming two national football teams


  • Other Sport
  • Friday, 24 Jan 2003

BY ERIC SAMUEL

PETALING JAYA: The national team management, headed by Datuk Ibrahim Saad and chief coach Allan Harris, will decide today on whether they should assemble two teams or one for the pre-Olympic and pre-Asian Cup tournaments. 

The close proximity of the two tournaments, which will be held between May and August, has left a big question mark over whether to form two teams or solely rely on the national Under-23 squad. 

The Under-23 squad will open their pre-Olympic campaign in the second round against the winners of the match between Turkmenistan and India and the first leg match will be played in Kuala Lumpur on May 3. The return match is scheduled for June 7. 

If Malaysia advance to the final rounds of the qualifiers the dates of the matches will clash with the pre-Asian Cup tournament. 

The final rounds of the Olympic qualifying tournament will be played between Aug 30 and Oct 18. In the Asian Cup qualifiers, Malaysia will open their campaign with an away match against Iraq on Aug 19 or 20. The pre-Asian Cup matches continue until Feb 18 next year. 

Harris said that it was a complicated situation but felt that they would be able to make a decision on their approach for the two tournaments. 

“That can be sorted out but the problem is our preparations,” said Harris, who was obviously upset with the way things are going for his boys after their commendable performance in the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Tiger Cup tournament last month. 

The friendly matches against Finland and Norway were cancelled leaving the team without an international match this month.  

The cancellation of the matches led to the opening phase of centralised training, scheduled for Jan 20-30, to be called off. 

To make matters worst the national players have their commitments with their respective state teams or clubs. The new season kicks off with the Charity Shield match between Penang and Selangor at the State Stadium in Batu Kawan on Feb 9. 

This leaves Harris with not much time because the new proposed dates to start a two-week centralised training stint is March 2. The next phase will be in April until June 8. 

Further phases with playing tours on the cards will be determined by the progress of the team in the pre-Olympics. 

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