GOOD­WILL GES­TURE

Kim Swee says na­tional trainees will re­turn to their clubs af­ter friendly

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RE­PORTS BY AJITPAL SINGH ajit­pals­ingh@nst.com.my

GOOD co­op­er­a­tion be­tween clubs and the na­tional team is vi­tal for the progress of Malaysian foot­ball. Fol­low­ing the post­pone­ment of the Asian Cup qual­i­fiers against North Korea, na­tional coach Ong Kim Swee will re­lease his 22 trainees to their re­spec­tive clubs af­ter the in­ter­na­tional friendly against the Philip­pines in Manila on March 22.

The friendly was sup­posed to be a warm-up for the match against North Korea in Py­ongyang on March 28 be­fore the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) post­poned it due to the ten­sion be­tween both coun­tries.

“The trainees will be re­leased af­ter the trip to Manila. Some play­ers need the rest and pre­pare with their clubs for the AFC Cup and the FA Cup quar­ter-fi­nals,” said Kim Swee yes­ter­day.

“I hope the clubs will be happy with this de­ci­sion. The clubs have tight sched­ules and now their play­ers will have more time to rest and re­cover.

“I be­lieve that good com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween clubs and the FA of the Malaysia is im­por­tant and that it will ben­e­fit the coun­try.”

Kim Swee took charge of the team yes­ter­day upon his re­turn from Malacca to set­tle fam­ily is­sues fol­low­ing the death of his fa­ther last week.

The match against the Philip­pines will be Kim Swee’s 24th in­ter­na­tional as na­tional coach in dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods since 2014. Malaysia recorded eight wins, seven draws and eight losses un­der the Malacca-born coach.

Kim Swee said the post­pone­ment of the Asian Cup qual­i­fy­ing game against North Korea will not af­fect his team much.

“As long as the safety of the play­ers and of­fi­cials are guar­an­teed, we will go. It is im­por­tant for both par­ties to work to­gether,” he said.

AFC are ex­pected to de­cide on a new date some­time in June at a neu­tral venue.

Malaysia’s last four matches against the Philip­pines ended in draws. The na­tional team’s last win came in the 4-0 thrash­ing of their South­east Asian op­po­nent in the 2007 AFF Cup in Bangkok.

PIC BY OS­MAN ADNAN

Na­tional coach Ong Kim Swee (left) over­sees train­ing at Wisma FAM in Ke­lana Jaya yes­ter­day. Malaysia play the Philip­pines in Manila in a friendly on March 22.

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