Malaysian FA refutes Japan friendly rumour, citing overseas travel difficulties

Malaysian FA refutes Japan friendly rumour, citing overseas travel difficulties

Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe is also likely to have his contract extended when it expires later this year.

Although there were rumours that Malaysia will play Japan in a friendly, the Malaysian FA (FAM) general secretary Stuart Ramalingam has denied that anything concrete has been agreed between the two countries' associations.

Earlier this week, UK tabloid Daily Mirror wrote that Japan will play Malaysia sometime in September, in a story on Liverpool FC star Takumi Minamino.

However, in a press briefing held by FAM on Friday, August 14, Stuart explained that the job of organising friendly matches has become more difficult due to restricted overseas travel under Covid-19 pandemic conditions.

Stuart Ramalingam

Most recently, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has postponed three rounds of the World Cup Asian qualifying stage that had earlier been scheduled for October and November this year, due to the increased number of Covid-19 cases throughout the continent. The 2020 AFF Championship had also been postponed to 2021.

"There have been preliminary, open discussions between me and my colleagues from the other FAs, but no confirmation can be made due to difficulties in organising overseas travel. On our part, we don't have the authority to travel abroad as the power is with the National Security Council and the health ministry. Only the matches against Bahrain and Kuwait had been confirmed earlier to take place later, and even these two look doubtful now. But they will be discussed with the national team committee later.

"And due to the sudden availability of time because of the postponement of the qualification, we'll ask head coach Tan Cheng Hoe whether he wants to hold a brief national team centralised camp during that time," explained Stuart.

When asked by the press, he also stated his belief that Cheng Hoe, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the year, has performed well and is likely to have his tenure extended.

"I'm glad that we now have more time and Cheng Hoe is at the office more! We have started discussions on his contract and I think the national team has been performing well since last January, in that our form has not dipped. 

"Both parties have a good relationship, and the discussion is on how we are going to move forward together," noted Stuart.

Original author: Zulhilmi Zainal
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