Thrilling affair in store after vital changes to M-League calendar 

26/01/2023 05:00 PM

PETALING JAYA, Jan 26 (Bernama) -- This season’s Malaysia League (M-League), which will have six trophies up for grabs, promises to be even more exciting after the Malaysian Football League (MFL) made several crucial changes to the competition calendar.

The most interesting aspect is that the Super League schedule will be longer this time as it will be held from Feb 24-Dec 17, involving a total of 182 matches with the addition of 50 extra games compared to the 2022 season.

This is due to the inclusion of two more clubs, taking the overall number of teams competing in the Super League this year to 14 compared to 12 in 2022.

Another important change made by the MFL will see the Malaysia Cup being held during the Super League period and, as such, the prestigious tournament will no longer mark the climax of the M-League season.

The M-League administrative body has also made changes to the playing format for the Charity Shield match between Johor Darul Ta’zim (JT) and Terengganu FC on Feb 24 for the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup, which will also be counted as the opening tie of the Super League season.

The MFL also confirmed that the Charity Shield match will be held at JDT’s home ground, the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puteri.

MFL chief executive officer Stuart Ramalingam said that the key lessons learned from last season, and which have been adapted into the 2023 season, have provided it with a clearer calendar although they are still in the dark about Malaysian clubs’ participation in tournaments organised by the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) as it is still awaiting the draws to be carried out.

“Only then will we know whether JDT, Sabah and Terengganu will be playing at home or away as well as the distance they have to travel. Slight changes may need to be made towards the end of the season for the benefit of all,” he told a media conference on the briefing of the 2023 M-League calendar at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya, here, today.

The MFL also announced that some M-League matches this season will start as early as between 4.30 pm and 4.45 pm for Sabah and Sarawak and between 5.15 pm and 5.30 pm for teams based in the peninsula.

“The early kick-off times are designed to boost the atmosphere at the venues and create a new and more dynamic experience for supporters,” said Stuart.

He said the two existing kick-off times, namely 8.15 pm and 9 pm for areas in Peninsular Malaysia and 7.30 pm and 8.15 pm for Sabah and Sarawak, would be retained, although, during the Ramadan month, matches will start at 10 pm and 9.15 pm in the peninsula as well as Sabah and Sarawak respectively.

The calendar for the 2023 season also took into consideration the assignments and matches involving the national team for the year.

The six trophies up for grabs this year are the Charity Shield, Super League, FA Cup, Malaysia Cup, MFL Challenge Cup and MFL Cup (Under-23 Reserve League).

The MFL Challenge Cup, previously known as the Challenge Cup, is making a comeback after a three-year hiatus and will involve the participation of the eight teams eliminated from the last 16 of the Malaysia Cup competition.

These eight teams will compete in the quarter-finals of the MFL Challenge Cup, which was last won by JDT II in 2019.

For the inaugural MFL Cup, the 14 Super League teams will field their Under-23 outfits together with the FAM-NSC Project Squad, thus, making it a 15-team tournament.


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