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AFF Cup: Cheng Hoe keeping fingers crossed players stay fit, injury-free


Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe said the Harimau Malaya, would begin working on the tactical aspects once most of the players check in on Wednesday. —  Bernama pic
Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe said the Harimau Malaya, would begin working on the tactical aspects once most of the players check in on Wednesday. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, Nov 28 — The national team’s preparation for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup 2020, which will kick off in Singapore on Dec 5, is coming along well although not all the players have reported for training.

Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe said the Harimau Malaya, who are currently focusing on fitness and small group training, would begin working on the tactical aspects once most of the players check in on Wednesday (Dec 1), a day after the Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT)-Kuala Lumpur City FC Malaysia Cup final.

As such, he hoped that those already in training as well as the players who will be joining later would maintain their fitness levels and also stay injury-free so as to avoid any last-minute problems that might jeopardise their preparation.

“Of course, we are hoping that the players will be in the best shape possible because we are running out of time. I hope the players are free from injuries and all set for our opening game against Cambodia on Dec 6.

“What’s important is that every player who joins up has the same dream and desire to make a difference to the national squad,” he said.

He said this when met at the Harimau Malaya squad’s first training session under phase two of the centralised camp at the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) Sports Complex here today.

Currently, 15 out of the 28 players called up for training have reported for duty but Petaling Jaya City FC striker Darren Lok had to be dropped from the squad bound for Singapore after suffering an abdominal muscle injury during phase one of the training camp, which began on Nov 22.

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“He has had to drop out on medical advice. This is indeed sad because he has been in good form,” said Cheng Hoe.

Meanwhile, the 53-year-old coach also announced that Terengganu FC’s Muhammad Arif Fadzilah Abu Bakar, who was supposed to check in today, had been granted a day’s leave after complaining of not feeling well.

Cheng Hoe is still waiting for seven players from JDT and two from Kuala Lumpur City while the four overseas-based players will join the team in Singapore. The coach is set to name the final 24-man squad for the AFF Cup on Dec 2, a day before they leave for Singapore.

The 2020 AFF Cup will be held from Dec 5-Jan 1 next year with Malaysia, who are the runners-up of the 2018 edition, drawn in Group B with defending champions Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.

Malaysia, who are targeting a second consecutive final appearance, will begin their campaign against Cambodia before facing Laos (Dec 9), Vietnam (Dec 12) and Indonesia (Dec 19) as they seek to finish in the top two positions and qualify for the semi-finals. — Bernama



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