Monday, November 21, 2011

Malaysian Under-23 Squad To Fly Home On Chartered Plane After Finals

JAKARTA, Nov 20 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Under-23 football squad competing against Syria in Kuala Lumpur for the Olympic Qualifiers this Wednesday will be sent home on a chartered plane after SEA Games finals tomorrow night.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the Cabinet approved a request from the ministry to fly the squad home using local low-cost carrier Air Asia at its weekly meeting on Friday.

"This shows the Cabinet's recognition for Malaysian athletes. We had used a military plane for the Laos edition, but now we are using a chartered commercial plane," he told reporters here today.

During the SEA Games in Laos two years ago, the team had boarded a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) plane to Vientiane due to the inavailability of commercial planes before the football game.

Ahmad Shabery said after the final game between Malaysia and Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium tomorrow night, the national players would be sent straight to the Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

He said the Cabinet's decision was made based on the team's three consecutive matches, with only a day in between each game, which left them with little rest.

The squad, coached by Ong Kim Swee, began with a game against Indonesia in the Group A finals last Thursday, then went up against Myanmar in the semi-finals last night and will meet Indonesia tomorrow.

This Wednesday the team will play against Syria at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in a bid to qualify for the Olympic Games.

"By using a chartered plane, our players can get some rest before their game against Syria," he added.

Commenting on the game tomorrow, Ahmad Shabery said the national under-23 team has matured and will be able to handle psychological pressure from Indonesian supporters.

"If necessary, we will ride in a Barracuda armoured vehicle to get to the stadium and this is not the first time...we did so during the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup in 2010 and recently for the SEA Games Group A finals.

"This will also ensure the safety of our players," he said.


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