Poor preparations could derail Malaysia's Paris Olympic hopes

KUALA LUMPUR: The FA of Malaysia (FAM) has a lofty ambition at the Under-23 Asian Cup in Doha from April 15-May 3 but the lack of planning is alarming.

Last month, FAM president Datuk Hamidin Amin set a semi-final target for the national Under-23 team, which were promised quality-friendly matches abroad as part of the preparation.

The Under-23 Asian Cup is an Olympic qualifier, with the top three teams earning automatic Paris 2024 berths. The fourth-placed team will proceed to the inter-continental playoff.

It was earlier announced that the Young Tigers would play in a quadrangular with Indonesia before going to Doha for a series of friendlies and training sessions.

However, it did not materialise as Indonesia have opted to play friendlies in the Middle East from March 31.

FAM technical director Scott O'Donell said Under-23 coach Juan Torres Garrido is finalising training plans for his team.

"Garrido is in the process of making plans but is facing challenges, including player selection," said the Australian O'Donell in a press conference after the FAM executive council meeting in Wisma FAM, Kelana Jaya today.

"We cannot confirm details for now. We will head to Qatar in April."

Malaysia are in Group D of the Under-23 Asian Cup with Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Kuwait. They will start their campaign against Uzbekistan on April 17.

Their best result in the tournament was reaching the quarter-finals in 2018.

Strangely, FAM also announced that Garrido will handle the national Under-20 team.

The Spaniard is also a part of the coaching staff of the national senior team under head coach Kim Pan Gon.

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