Malacca (31 May, 2016): Former International Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli has urged the Malaysian Under-21 team to win the Nations Cup 2016 and boost their chances for gold in next year’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Akmal wants the players to achieve something he and his teammates could not do in the 2001 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, which is winning the gold medal at home.
The last time Malaysia won the gold medal on home turf was back in 1989 and in 2001, the national Under-23 team played bridesmaid to Thailand after losing 0-1 in the final at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.
The 34-year-old has advised all the players in the current Under-21 squad to stay focused on the Nations Cup 2016 which serves as an ideal platform for the players to strengthen their performance and improve their weaknesses.
Akmal hopes Frank Bernhardt’s boys will put their best foot forward in the Nations Cup 2016 which will be held on June 3&5 at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca.
“Do not repeat the tragedy of 2001 SEA Games. It really haunts me till today after we lost 0-1 to Thailand in the final. We played well to win in our opening matches but suffered the most painful defeat in the final,” said Akmal, a former Kedah striker.
“The Nations Cup 2016 will be a great experience for the players who will play against strong opposition team from the ASEAN region. They should make good use of this opportunity to impress the coach of Malaysia’s ability in taking on these teams. With home ground advantage and support from fans, they must aim to win the tournament,” he said.
Meanwhile, Melaka United Soccer Association (MUSA) Deputy President Dato’ Wira Yusoff Mahadi has urged Malaysian football supporters to flood the stadium and show their support for the Young Tigers.
Tickets for the Nations Cup have been selling fast as 5,000 tickets have already been sold. In addition, a large group of supporters from Singapore have booked a fleet of busses to travel to Malacca for the match against Malaysia on June 3 at Stadium Hang Jebat.
“I hope that fans not only from Malacca but also from Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Johor will come and support our boys.
“The tickets will be sold at the stadium from June 1 onwards (10am to 8pm) until the second match day on June 5,” said Yusoff after the Local Organising Committee meeting at the Stadium Hang Jebat yesterday.
At the same time, Yusoff said that preparations leading to the Nations Cup 2016 was on track as the stage is set for all four ASEAN football powerhouses – Malaysia Under-21, Singapore Under-21, Thailand Under-21 and Vietnam Under-21 to fight it out for the prestigious trophy.
Organised by FAM and promoted by leading sports agency MP & Silva, the Nations Cup 2016 will take place on 3&5 June 2016 at the Hang Jebat Stadium, and will feature the Under-21 National Teams from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Thailand will take on Vietnam in the first match on June 3 (kick-off 4.45pm) while Singapore will face hosts Malaysia later at night (kick-off 8.45pm). The winners will meet in the Cup final on 5 June 2016.
Tickets are priced at RM5 for children 12-year-old and below, RM10 for open terrace and RM20 at the Grandstand per match day at Malacca’s Hang Jebat Stadium.
Tickets can be purchased at Ticketpro outlets in Klang Valley and Malacca and also at the Hang Jebat Stadium on match days.
More details are available at www.nationscup.asia.