North Korea 8 June, Lebanon 13 June? – OKS not feeling good about this

Malaysia’s soured relationship with North Korea continues to put a strain on our national football team.

The Harimau Malaysia squad were initially scheduled to fly to Pyongyang to play North Korea in the group B Asian Cup qualifiers on the 28th of March.

But since Kim Jong-Nam, the brother of North Korea’s leader got assassinated at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the 13th of February, the match had to be postponed due to concerns of national security.

North Korea 8 June, Lebanon 13 June

After appealing to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for a neutral venue and a change of date, the clash between North Korea v Malaysia has been postponed to the 8th of June, while the venue is still undecided.

National coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, however, has expressed that he is not too happy about the new date.

The Malaysia Tigers will have to fly to the neutral venue, face North Korea on the 8th of June, and then fly back, and face Lebanon on the 13th of June, all in the span of six days.

But where is the neutral venue? 

To make things worse, the Malaysian side are left hanging as they do not know where the neutral venue is going to be. This makes things difficult for Datuk Ong Kim Swee to work out how much time they have between those two dates for training.

Photo: Harian Metro

“The date given by AFC is the 8th of June, so that doesn’t leave us with much choice. However, I’m quite concerned about the journey and the traveling. If we play in Pyongyang or somewhere in China, it will take some time to go back and forth. And as soon as we come back, we’re facing Lebanon.” Datuk Ong Kim Swee told Harian Metro.

“Maybe if we could play in Bangkok, or Laos, or Cambodia, that will be much easier to handle. Those places are not too far away, so we have enough time to come back and prepare.” he added.

Datuk Ong Kim Swee also admitted that there was nothing much he could do about it, since North Korea gets to pick the neutral venue as hosts.

In addition to that, the 8th of June also falls during Ramadan period. Datuk Ong Kim Swee wants to make sure the Malaysian players are given enough time to rest and recover upon returning from the North Korea v Malaysia fixture, before taking on Lebanon in Malaysia.

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