Kuantan (7 September, 2013): The Malaysian team received a pleasant visit from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan today, precisely an hour before the start of their opening match against Singapore in the 41st edition of the Merdeka Tournament.
The Prime Minister, who is on an official visit to the state, spared close to 30 minutes with the 22 players and National Under-23 head coach Ong Kim Swee in the dressing room as he prodded them on with words of encouragement.
He had expressed his wish that the national team put on a credible performance in the Merdeka Tournament, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country which was inaugurated 41 years ago.
“It is important that the players play well in the spirit of sportsmanship and play to their best to win the Merdeka Tournament. I am confident we can achieve this target with a highest level of commitment and discipline,” said Datuk Seri Najib.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Secretary-General, Dato Hamidin Mohd Amin, thanked the Prime Minister for taking time off from his busy schedule to support the national team and boost their confidence.
“We reached the finals of the Merdeka Tournament for two consecutive years, in 2007 and 2008. We hope this momentum continues in the Merdeka Tournament and the SEA Games in Myanmar later this year,” said Dato Hamidin.
“FAM has invested a lot in the development of the game and we expect to see positive results. The recent triumph of the National Under-16 team in the AFF Championships in Myanmar, beating Indonesia 3-2 on penalties, is a positive direction,” added Hamidin.