ITwould be a perfect belated gift for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who celebrates his birthday today, if Harimau Malaya can come up with a positive result against the United Arab Emirates in tomorrow’s pre-World Cup Group G match in Bukit Jalil.
Tan Cheng Hoe’s side are feeling confident ahead of the match following the 3-2 victory over Indonesia in their opening group match in Jakarta on Thursday.
However, it will not be easy for the Malaysians as the World No 65 are in a different class and among the best in Asia.
Malaysia, the World No 159, have improved greatly under Cheng Hoe and fans are expecting them to earn a win or draw in their 12th meeting with the UAE.
Being a football fan, the King would definitely be delighted if Harimau Malaya can earn a good result against the higher-ranked opponents.
In 2007, the King watched the national team play in the 2007 Asian Cup at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil when Malaysia co-hosted the tournament with Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Unfortunately, the team, then coached by Norizan Bakar, failed to sparkle in their group, losing to China (5-1), Uzbekistan (5-0) and Iran (2-0).
The King, who was the deputy president of the FA of Malaysia then, quit after the debacle in the Asian Cup, only to return as president in 2014 before relinquishing his post in 2017.
The Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, is also an ardent football fan.
The Queen, who is from Johor, is best remembered for doing a victory lap with the Johor flag when the state team defeated Kuala Lumpur 2-0 for their first-ever Malaysia Cup crown in 1985.