After almost a year in hiatus, the Malaysia national football team has regrouped in Johor Bahru for their first training session of the year at the Johor Darul Ta’zim FC training centre. 

The centre which will be the team’s base for ten days was chosen by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for its state-of-the-art facilities that are equipped with a medical centre, training pitches and other equipment.

Technical Director of Johor Darul Ta’zim FC Alistair Edwards said that the club is pleased to assist the national team to prepare for the competitions as it will help elevate the club’s image to the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hampered Harimau Malaya’s head coach Tan Cheng Hoe’s plan to assemble his team last year and that this will be the right time to utilise the opportunity to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

Thirty players were called to join the camp with 18 shortlisted players to proceed for the final training prior to their first match. The squad boasts familiar and new faces, including naturalised ones, to strengthen the squad. 

Tan believes that the training session is very important to group ready players with new call-ups and to familiarise themselves with the team’s system in their quest to cruise through the remaining fixtures. 

At present, Malaysia sits second in Group G of the World Cup qualifiers. 

Leading the pack is Vietnam, with Thailand and United Arab Emirates (UAE) occupying positions behind Malaysia. 

Sitting at the bottom of the group is Indonesia who has been eliminated from the tournament.

Previously, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has decided that all remaining fixtures for Group G will be played at centralised venues in the UAE. 

Malaysia will fly to the UAE in late May to play their first game on June 3 against the host followed by Vietnam on June 11 and Thailand on June 15.

This article was first published on March 27, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 134

The Bruneian | KUALA LUMPUR

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