It was just “light and enjoy yourself” training for Harimau Malaya as national football chief coach Tan Cheng Hoe does not want to put any pressure of his players for Tuesday’s World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifier in Group G at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The team has been hit by suspensions and injuries but Cheng Hoe is taking all in his stride to face Merah Putih (Indonesia) after Malaysia pulled off a stunning come-from-behind 2-1 win over Thailand at the same venue last Thursday.
Cheng Hoe is happy to see the keen rivalry among his charges to find a place in his first team. With this in mind, Cheng Hoe had a simple message for the players to “fight for your place” in the team.
“Right now no one is assured of a place in the team…the team will be picked on merit. So be fully focused and show what you are capable of. I am happy with the fantastic team spirit,”said Cheng Hoe.
In the same breath the Kedah-born Cheng Hoe is very encouraged with the fantastic fan support the Harimau Malaya has been getting from the fans and supporters.
“Fantastic! The fans and supporters have also been the driving force behind the team’s success in many ways. They (the fans and supporters) have been awesome.
“The players are very encouraged. The players have told me they are inspired by the support in the stands,” added Cheng Hoe.
Cheng Hoe will not have the services of striker Syafiq Ahmad and right back Matthew Davies – both out of the Indonesia match to serve suspension for two yellow cards.
Injured Syahmi Safari is on the way to recovery and Cheng Hoe is confident the Selangor player will be fit to take the field in his match plans.
“He came off well in training. That is good sign for the team. As I said all will have to fight for their place and it is left to be seen who makes the grade,” said Cheng Hoe.