Neu­tral venue wish

New Straits Times - - Sport -

FA of Malaysia (FAM) pres­i­dent Tunku Is­mail Sul­tan Ibrahim hopes the Asian Cup Qual­i­fy­ing Group B match be­tween the na­tional team and North Korea on Oct 5 will be at a neu­tral venue.

The match was ini­tially sched­uled on March 28 be­fore it was moved to June 8 but the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) later post­poned it again, cit­ing the geo-po­lit­i­cal ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula.

“The first pri­or­ity is the safety of our play­ers. It is no se­cret that we cur­rently have is­sues with North Korea. At gov­ern­ment level, I am not sure whether things are okay or there are still is­sues,” said Tunku Is­mail yes­ter­day.

“Our North Korean coun­ter­parts wrote to us re­cently guar­an­tee­ing safety and we ap­pre­ci­ate it. But it was the de­ci­sion by AFC to post­pone the match. We will fol­low what­ever de­ci­sions AFC make.

“I pre­fer the match to be at a neu­tral venue. If we have to play in Py­ongyang then we will play there...it is not a prob­lem...the only con­cern is the safety of our play­ers.”

Mean­while, the na­tional Un­der-22 team will be on a play­ing tour in China on June 8-16. The 26-mem­ber squad will face China’s youth side on June 10 in Hu­nan, fol­lowed by the re­serves teams of Guangzhou Ever­grande (June 13) and Guangzhou R&F (June 15) in Guangh­zou be­fore re­turn­ing to Kuala Lumpur to play a Super League club on June 22. Ajitpal Singh

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