After the relative success of the 2018 AFF Championship where Malaysia reached the final of the biggest tournament in Southeast Asia, Tan Cheng Hoe is once again in the hot seat as the national team seeks to make a dent in the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifers.
The 51-year-old head coach has called up 27 players for this training camp with the squad being withered down to 23 players before they depart for Jakarta on September 3. All have reported for training with almost all of them having played in the Malaysia Cup as recently as Saturday.
Cheng Hoe is clear what he wants with his squad and expects every player to be giving their all to be in the final 23. However he is also aware that the toll on the players who has been playing week in, week out and will look to get them in the best shape for the qualifiers.
"Today (Sunday) is the first day of the training camp and 27 players that we called up have reported. There are a few players who are tired from the Malaysia Cup matches. As with every training camp, I’m hopeful to foster a good relationship among the players for the upcoming mission.
"Our training is not that we push the players to the maximum. Most important for these players to have the right recoveries and tactical training. It’s very important that players coming for the national team training camp have the motivation to sacrifice for the country. If they have this attitude, I’m sure we can overcome many things," said Cheng Hoe before Sunday's training session.
Two tough encounters against Indonesia and United Arab Emirates awaits but Malaysia will first have a warm-up match against Jordan on August 30, a day before Malaysia's Independence Day. A match that will be used to not only assess players' fitness levels but also a chance for him to implement the tactical side of things.
Jordan is being looked at a similar team to UAE and that playing them will give the players and coaching staff a chance to get acquianted to the style that they will face on September 10, as well as rectifying any potential problems that can be seen from that international friendly.
With the match being seen as part of the preparation towards Indoneisa, Cheng Hoe will no doubt be trying to use to his best XI formation while looking to give opportunities to newcomers like Brendan Gan, J. Partiban and Danial Amier a chance to show what they can do with the national team.
"Playing against Jordan is a good warm-up match for us because of the new faces coming in. I hope they can suit the way we play and at the same time there’s no pressure for them that they have to show something special, just play their normal game and I’m sure they can be part of the team.
"It’ll be good to play Jordan because we know they are a better team than us. But that game is not the be all, end all. Players must learn and keep to our game style that we have shown," added Cheng Hoe.
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