It has been a long wait for the football fraternity in Malaysia to return to action since the leagues were officially postponed beginning 16 March 2020. Now three months later, the first sign of resumption is here after the Malaysian government introduced the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) that also entailed a certain relaxation for footballing activities.
While competitions and official matches are still prohibited, the 15 June date will at least allow respective teams to start their trainings in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysian Football League (MFL) will jointly produce.
That is a good 45 days earlier than initially anticipated with MFL planning for training resumption in August and competitions to resume starting September. That said, just like how it has been done it other countries and leagues, the first training resumption will still need to be individual training followed by small group training before the whole team can train together.
With this earlier schedule, it would give MFL a chance to reorganise their plans and the start of competitions could be brought forward to August or even late July - which effectively provides more time for Tan Cheng Hoe to make his preparations for the resumption of the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualification matches later this year.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) made the announcement last Friday that Malaysia's revised fixtures for the last three rounds of group matches will be v United Arab Emirates (8 Oct), v Vietnam (13 Oct) and v Thailand (17 Nov) respectively.
FAM plans to have the a quarantine-based centralised training for Tan Cheng Hoe's team as well as Brad Maloney's Under-19 side who will prepare for the 2020 AFC U-19 Championship that will be played in Uzbekistan in October.
The format will see the players gathered together isolated from the rest of the world to ensure that no outside containment of the virus to the team. While those will be easy to do under the circumstance of a training camp, it would be much harder when the squad need to travel to play their matches.
Things are not back to normal yet but the football fans in Malaysia can start to crack a smile once again after a long layoff.