Cheng Hoe looking for new additions to national squad

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With the new Malaysian League season having just begun national football coach Tan Cheng Hoe is keeping his doors open for new players to beef up the present Harimau Malaya squad.

Malaysia finished a creditable runners-up to Vietnam in last December’s AFF Suzuki Cup and surprised many reaching the final. The recently ranked 169 in the FIFA list – surprising many critics along the way.

Along the way Malaysia dumped defending champions Thailand in the semi-finals and knocked out Myanmar in the group stage to advance.

Cheng Hoe had his contract with the FA of Malaysia (FAM) for another two years – which will see him in the hot-seat till the end of 2020. He has his work cut out for him in the forthcoming Asia Cup and World Cup qualifiers.

It is a tough, tough mission for the former international from Kedahan, who said: “The national team is not finalized. The doors are still open for newcomers to come in.”

After watching four matches, including the Japan-Iran semi-final match in the recent Asian Cup in Dubai, Cheng Hoe is aware of the mammoth task he has on his hands.

“There is a big gap between us and the rest of the countries in Asia. Their quality in terms of tactical and technical aspects of the game is very much higher compared to us.

“We need to scale up in many aspects of the game,” said Cheng Hoe, from his hometown Alor Setar, where he is back to spend the Chinese New Year with his family.

Cheng Hoe was in Johor Bahru on Saturday for the Charity Shield match between five-time Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim and Malaysia Cup champions Perak. JDT retained the silverware with a 1-0 win.

“We need to beef up every department in the team…from goalkeeping, defence, midfield and upfront. Most glaring is we don’t have a play-maker who could hold the team. I need solid centre-backs as much as a killer striker.”

Cheng Hoe said he will watch as many matches s possible in the M-League when the league resumes after the Chinese New Year holidays. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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