Revised Fixtures Unveiled as Palestine Withdraws from Merdeka Tournament 2023
Following Palestine’s unexpected exit from the competition, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announces updated fixtures for the 2023 Merdeka Tournament, featuring India, Tajikistan, and Malaysia.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has made adjustments to the fixture schedule for the 2023 Merdeka Tournament due to the last-minute withdrawal of Palestine from the competition. The announcement was made on Tuesday.
The tournament will now proceed with three participating teams: India, Tajikistan, and the host nation, Malaysia. It will adopt a knockout format to determine the winner.
In adherence to the original timetable, India is slated to face Malaysia at the 90,000-seat Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on October 13. The victors of this match will then advance to the final, scheduled for October 17, where they will compete against Tajikistan.
The decision to modify the format was reached during a special meeting between FAM, the organizers of the 2023 Independence Cup (Merdeka), and the management teams of India and Tajikistan. This decision was made in light of the time constraints stemming from Palestine’s withdrawal, as confirmed in a statement by the Football Association of Malaysia.
Both the Indian and Tajikistan teams arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, and they were greeted by the characteristic heavy rainfall that Southeast Asia is known for. Despite the weather, the players displayed palpable excitement as they prepared for what promises to be an exhilarating tournament, set against the backdrop of an enthusiastic local crowd at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who has prior experience playing at the Bukit Jalil Stadium during his time with East Bengal in the AFC Cup against Selangor FA in 2013, expressed his eagerness for the upcoming matches. He also extended an invitation to Indian fans in Kuala Lumpur to come and support the team.
“I have played here once before, and I still remember the stadium; it was absolutely buzzing. I think we have a lot of Indians here as well, and it will be good to see some of those fans support us as well,” said Gurpreet Singh.
Defender Subhasish Bose emphasized the significance of matches against strong opponents like Malaysia and Tajikistan in the team’s preparation for major events such as the World Cup Qualifiers next month and the AFC Asian Cup in January.
“These will be tough matches against some good sides, and I think they will go a long way in helping us prepare for the Asian Cup and the World Cup Qualifiers. Malaysia is a very good team and has had some good results recently. So, everyone’s looking forward to playing against them,” said Subhasish.