BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
The government of Malaysia has barred the Malaysia national football team from flying to Pyongyang, North Korea for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match scheduled to be played on the 28th March 2017.
In a statement released by Dato' Hamidin Amin on Monday, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) were informed of the directive by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin which states that the government has agreed to stop the national team from participating in the match in North Korea for security reasons.
FAM had previously received the all-clear from Wisma Putra signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dato' Sri Anifah Aman that states that the venue for the match, Kim Il-Sung Stadium in Pyongyang has been deemed safe but pending future changes.
However, the decision by the Malaysia government to kick North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia out of the country on 4th March 2017 has seen the situation change with directives being handed out to deny Malaysian from visiting North Korea for the time being.
Based on this new information, FAM has now submitted a letter to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to request for a change of venue to a neutral one with security factors being the main instigator of the request.
Dato' Hamidin had also contacted the Secretary-General of AFC, Dato' Windsor John to make further plea to the request to have the match to be moved to a neutral venue before the national team begins centralised training on the 13th March 2017.
Datuk Ong Kim Swee is currently on an attachment to Queens Park Rangers in England and is expected to fly back to Kuala Lumpur this week. With the call-ups expected after this weekend's round of FA Cup matches, question marks remains as to whether the match will still go on.