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Malaysia set to gain further advantage in play-off tie against Timor Leste

08:01 GMT+3 25/04/2019
Shahrul Saad, Malaysia, 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup
Malaysia fans will be happy to hear this latest development regarding their team's World Cup/Asian Cup play-off match against Timor Leste in June.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Malaysia are likely to play both their 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup play-off matches against Timor Leste at home, according to Malaysian FA (FAM) secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam.

Malaysian fans have been wondering whether there is a possibility that the two matches will be held in Malaysia, considering that the last time the two sides met in a two-legged tie back in 2016, Timor Leste agreed to hold their leg of the tie in Malaysia. Furthermore, one of their two AFF Championship home group matches last year was also held in Kuala Lumpur, due to the lack of adequate facilities in the country.

Stuart told Goal on Thursday that FAM has received an e-mail from the Timor Leste FA the day before, agreeing to let Malaysia host the second leg match, although he was quick to stress that they await the formal letter, which will be submitted later.

"On Wednesday I received an e-mail from the Timor Leste FA agreeing to let us host the second leg, but we still have to wait for them to notify us officially through a formal letter.

"Apart from that, we are also looking to host the first leg, originally scheduled for June 6, on the 7th instead. Of course, all these changes are subject to AFC's (Asian Football Confederation) approval," he explained through a telephone call.

But when asked about the possibility of hosting both matches outside of the Klang Valley area, Stuart responded in the negative.

The two matches, with the second leg scheduled to be played on June 11, fall within the first week of the Islamic celebration of Eid, and the Muslim-majority residents of Kuala Lumpur are expected to leave the capital city and the surrounding satellite cities to return to their hometowns for the celebration.

"We have mulled over the idea of hosting the matches outside of the Klang Valley, but it will be a nightmare to acquire logistical services needed for the matches outside of Klang Valley during this period.

"In any case, we have until April 30 to nominate a venue to the AFC," he noted.

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