BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
In the national team press conference held on Thursday, head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee revealed that he has no specific target to achieve for the national team's FIFA ranking position this year, only that they have to win all the official matches scheduled.
"I have no specific target in terms of ranking for this year, due to the complexities of the FIFA rankings scoring system.
"(But) what is more important is that we must win the 'A' international matches that have been scheduled," added the 45-year old coach.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary general Dato’ Hamidin Amin elaborated, by explaining the difficulties faced when seeking opponents for friendly matches.
"Of course we want to hold 'A' international matches on all international match dates set by FIFA. For instance the March 29 friendly against Macau, we initially applied to about 20 countries but they all had other commitments and it was Macau who eventually responded.
"Sure, if we want to improve our position, we need to play teams ranked 150th and higher, but even if we plan a year earlier, they can still cancel the match at the last minute because of other commitments.
"Actually today I was supposed to announce that we will play Oman on May 28 at Larkin, but they cancelled at the last minute for some reason, and they had to be replaced with Myanmar," explained Hamidin, who is also the national team manager.
A table listing down international matches involving the national team that was distributed to the media during the press conference and prepared by Ong himself, showed that Malaysia have four matches confirmed out of the remaining eight FIFA international match days this year.
Of the four, two are the two-legged Asia Cup playoff matches against Timor Leste on June 2 and 7, while the remaining will be friendlies against Myanmar on May 28 and Singapore on September 1.
FAM has also lined up friendly matches away to Oceania Football Confederation teams; Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Fiji (June 17, 22 and 26 respectively), but these matches are not expected to be 'A' international matches as no FIFA match days have been scheduled for the month of June.
One of the objectives given to Ong Kim Swee upon his appointment as the national team head coach at the end of 2015 was to raise the team ranking to 140, but Malaysia are now languishing in 174th, its worst ever position.