Cheng Hoe’s men itching for action as Singapore awaits in opener
Published on: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The players are in high spirits, fit and raring for action. And that’s good news for national football head coach Tan Cheng Hoe (pic) ahead of their four-nation Airmarine Cup opening tie against Singapore at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.

“All the players were very happy during the training sessions. Hopefully, we will have a good match tomorrow. The players know that this is a very important tournament for us to try and improve our world ranking,” he told a pre-tournament press conference here, Tuesday.

Cheng Hoe was also pleased to note that all his players were fit, including veteran striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, who joined his teammates in Tuesday morning’s training session.

Meanwhile, skipper Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak hopes that newcomers to the team will raise their game and help the team get a positive result from what is expected to be an explosive affair against neighbours Singapore.

“We respect Singapore and understand that any match between us is unique. This game is crucial for us to collect world ranking points and avoid playing in the knockout rounds of the World Cup qualifiers,” he said. 

Singapore caretaker coach Nazri Nasir will be counting on the experience gained by several of his players, like Hariss Harun, Muhammad Shakir Hamzah and Safwan Baharudin, in the Malaysia League (M-League) to overcome Malaysia.

“I believe my players will give their best as they were selected based on experience, performance and fitness,” said Nazri, who is temporarily in charge of the Lions’ senior squad while head coach Fandi Ahmad handles the Young Lions in the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 qualifiers in Mongolia this week.

Singapore defender Muhammad Zulfahmi Mohd Arifin reminded his teammates to be wary of Malaysia, especially ace striker Norshahrul.

The other match-up on Wednesday will see Oman taking on Afghanistan at the same venue (4.30pm).

The winners of both matches will meet in the final while the losers will play off for third placing. Both matches will be on March 23. – Bernama 


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