M-League’s early restart good for all teams and Harimau Malaya

SELANGOR midfielder Brendan Gan feels that the Aug 26 start date for the Malaysia League (M-League) is perfect for all the teams to step up their training intensity, as well as helping the national team in its preparation for upcoming international assignments.

The Australian-born admitted that the decision by the Malaysian Football League (MFL) to choose the date was to help national coach Tan Cheng Hoe get his team up and running for their warm-up game against Bahrain in Manama on Oct 2, ahead of three crucial matches in the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

The MFL earlier planned to resume the 2020 M-League season on Sept 1, but decided to bring it forward by five days after getting the green light from its board of directors.

“I feel that the five-day difference won’t affect the training plans drawn up by all the teams. Actually, at this stage, all of us have already stepped up our training regime as we only have about a month left before kick-off,” Gan said in a statement issued by MFL yesterday.

The national midfielder also brushed aside any concerns over the tight schedule that players would have to put up with as they scramble to complete the remaining M-League matches.

“Nothing to be worried about or concerned with when it comes to playing twice a week as we are all used to it, having played league matches over the weekend and FA Cup matches in midweek,” said Gan, who had also played for Sabah, Kelantan and Perak.

The M-League, which was suspended after the teams played just four round of matches, will be shortened to just 11 matches when it resumes on Aug 26.

The Super League and Premier League teams have also been allowed to hold friendlies without spectators from Aug 2.

The national team, meanwhile, has three more matches to complete its Group G fixtures in the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

The three matches are against United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai on Oct 8, Vietnam at the National Stadium Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on Oct 13, and Thailand in Bangkok on Nov 17.

Malaysia is now second in the Group G standings with nine points after five matches, with Vietnam leading the way with 11 points, followed by Thailand (eight points), the UAE (six points, with a game in hand) and Indonesia propping up the table with no points. — Bernama