Malaysia to play Chinese Super League clubs or Philippines before taking on North Korea

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Malaysia head coach Ong Kim Swee has admitted that he has concerns about travelling to the hermit kingdom for their Asian Cup qualification match.


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Ahead of Malaysia's 2019 Asian Cup Group B third round qualifying match against North Korea, head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has revealed that the travelling worries him more than the match itself.

Malaysia will open their qualifying campaign away to the hermit kingdom on March 28, and the travelling arrangement has given him concern.

"I feel that in terms of the match, it is not too tricky. It is the travelling that is a little complicated, as we are not too familiar with the country.

"But then again I don't think we'll be facing any problems as many other national teams have played away matches there," admitted Kim Swee when met by the press following the national team press conference on Friday.

According to Kim Swee, there are two plans regarding his team's preparations for the match.

His first plan is to play a friendly against the Philippines sometime before the 28th, and travel to North Korea from there.

"...there are flights to North Korea from there (the Philippines).

"...if we manage to secure a friendly match against the Philippines, (after the friendly) we'll immediately travel to Pyongyang. That means we'll be in North Korea for one week," said Kim Swee.

His second plan would be for his men to play test matches against Chinese Super League sides.

"If the friendly against the Philippines does not materialise, I have plans for the team to take on Chinese Super League clubs in test matches, either in Beijing or Shanghai.

"And then from there we will take a flight to North Korea. The weather over there in March will still be considerably chilly, so we have to adapt to the situation," said the 46-year old.

He however has cautioned everyone that North Korea, currently 125th in the FIFA ranking, are a stronger team than their ranking suggests.

"If they played more international friendlies, then they would definitely be ranked higher. But they're not the kind of team that play friendlies often," reminded the former Harimau Muda head coach.

Kim Swee also added that he expects to announce the Harimau Malaysia call-up for the match on March 12 or 13, one week before they are scheduled to depart the country for match preparations.

Malaysia have been drawn in Group B of the 2019 Asian Cup third round qualifiers, alongside North Korea, Hong Kong and Lebanon.

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