BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The Hang Jebat Stadium, Melaka is set to become the first Malaysian ground outside of Klang Valley to host Malaysia's home 'A' senior international match in five years.
According to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) official website, the Malaysia senior team will take on Macau in an 'A' international friendly on Tuesday March 29, at the Hang Jebat Stadium.
The last time a home 'A' international match involving Malaysia was played outside of Klang Valley was in 2011, when the Malaya Tigers defeated Myanmar 2-0 at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Almost all of Malaysia's home matches are played in the Klang Valley area, the most developed and populated area in the country that includes the state of Selangor, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, and the northern part of Negeri Sembilan. This is also where two of the country's biggest stadiums, the 80,000-seater Bukit Jalil National Stadium, and the 60,000 seater Shah Alam Stadium, are located, and where almost all matches involving the national team, and final matches of the domestic competitions are usually held.
In 2014 they played Palestine in a charity match at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Pahang, a match that ended in a 2-0 win to the visitors, but that match was not an official 'A' match.
The match will take place five days after Malaysia's final 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup qualifiers group match, against Saudi Arabia. It will be held as that date is an international friendly match slot in the FIFA calendar, for teams not participating in the World Cup qualifiers.
For head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, he has Malaysia's ranking on his mind. "Hopefully we can win, especially if we look at our current ranking. At the same time, this match is important in making sure that we are not left behind, especially in the push to improve our ranking," Ong was quoted as saying by the website.
One of the objectives assigned to Ong upon his appointment by FAM in December last year, was to improve Malaysia's ranking from the 171st spot currently, to 140th.