It’s the best de­ci­sion in view of the cir­cum­stances and safety, says of­fi­cial

New Straits Times - - News - DEVINDER SINGH KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

THE Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (FAM) wel­comed the de­ci­sion to post­pone in­def­i­nitely the na­tional team’s Asian Cup qual­i­fy­ing match against North Korea in Pyongyang.

The Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion’s (AFC) Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mit­tee took the de­ci­sion to post­pone the Group B fix­ture, orig­i­nally sched­uled for March 28, due to “es­ca­lat­ing diplo­matic ten­sion be­tween the gov­ern­ments of North Korea and Malaysia”.

“A new date for the game will be an­nounced in due course,” AFC said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

FAM sec­re­tary-gen­eral Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said it was the best de­ci­sion in view of the cir­cum­stances.

“FAM wel­comes AFC’s de­ci­sion to post­pone the match as the right one for the sake of the safety of play­ers and of­fi­cials of the na­tional team,” he said.

“FAM will leave it to AFC to de­ter­mine when the match should be played and will ex­tend our full co­op­er­a­tion in com­ing to an agree­ment.”

Hamidin added that the na­tional team’s friendly match against the Philip­pines on March 22 in Manila, which was meant to be a warmup for the North Korea fix­ture, will go ahead as planned.

“This is to en­sure that the na­tional team re­tains an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove its Fifa rank­ing of No. 161.”

Due to ris­ing ten­sion be­tween the two coun­tries, FAM had

asked AFC to switch the Group B fix­ture from Pyongyang to a neu­tral venue.

How­ever, AFC re­jected that op­tion af­ter the Hong Kong Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion said it would also seek to have its match against North Korea in Pyongyang shifted to an­other venue should AFC rule in Malaysia’s favour.

Hong Kong and Jor­dan, which will play against each other on March 28, are the other two teams in Group B, where the top two teams qual­ify for the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin

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