Mancini scared of Pan Gon

KUALA LUMPUR: Next month's scheduled friendly between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia has been cancelled

at the request of the latter's newly appointed coach, Roberto Mancini.

FA of Malaysia (FAM) secretary-general Datuk Noor Azman Rahman confirmed the cancellation today.

Harimau Malaysia were set to face the Green Falcons on Jan 4, just before the Asian Cup Finals in Qatar.

Azman explained that the Saudi Arabian team cancelled the match after Mancini analysed the draw and predicted the possibility of facing Malaysia in the last 16 of the Asian Cup.

"The friendly was arranged and finalised by both teams a few months ago.

"However, the Saudis informed FAM that the match will not take place following Mancini's request as both teams could face each other in the last 16 in Qatar.

If Saudi win Group F, they will face the runners-up of Group E, which consists of South Korea, Malaysia, Bahrain, and Jordan.

Saudi will now use the vacant Jan 4 slot to take on Lebanon in a warm-up match, followed by friendlies against Palestine and Hong Kong on January 9 and 10 before starting their Group F campaign in the Asian Cup.

Kim Pan Gon's side will be playing in the Asian Cup in Qatar for the first time on merit after 43 years.

Harimau Malaya will open their Asian Cup campaign against Jordan on Jan 16, followed by Bahrain on Jan 20 and South Korea five days later.

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