KUALA LUMPUR – The national under-23 football squad have to secure a win in their first encounter against Timor Leste in the SEA Games in Singapore at Bishan Stadium today.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the match would favour the national squad under coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee which has been performing better than Timor Leste.
“We must win tomorrow, Timor Leste are not our traditional opponents in football…but we are not taking it easy against any participating country.
“We should have no problem meeting Timor Leste,” he told reporters after attending the 100Plus ‘Stay Thirsty’ campaign at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here, yesterday.
Also present were world football legend, Pele and top Brazilian player Oscar, as the first international ambassadors appointed by 100Plus.
In conjunction with the event, 100Plus also presented sponsorship worth more than RM2 million to the Youth and Sports Ministry in support of national football.
Malaysia are facing a difficult path after being drawn into Group B with defending champions Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste.
After meeting Timor Leste, the national squad will take on Vietnam (June 2); Thailand (June 4); Brunei (June 8) before completing the group fixtures against Laos on June 11.
All Group B matches will be held at Bishan Stadium while Group A comprising host Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Cambodia will play at Jalan Besar Stadium.
In another development, Khairy said there was no special treatment for athletes who refuse to travel in the buses provided to Singapore next week.
He said only athletes who were abroad now were allowed to travel by air to Singapore.
“If they are in Kuala Lumpur, they have to take the bus…I do not know where Chong Wei is. Should he be here, Chong Wei needs to go to Singapore by bus,” he said.
Prior to this, chef-de- mission Datuk Seri Norza Mohamad Zakaria had said bus was chosen as the mode of transport to Singapore not to save cost but was aimed at fostering camaraderie among athletes in the biennial Games.
Thirty four buses will be deployed to ferry 843 athletes and officials to the regional sports event. – Bernama