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KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 -- A pall of gloom descended over the national football team’s camp in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today following the death of head coach Tan Cheng Hoe’s father.
With the team set to face Vietnam in a 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup Group G second-round qualifying match later today, Cheng Hoe received a WhatsApp message from his brother, Tan Cheng Hun, informing him that their father, Tan Chooi Siak, 95, died of old age at about 12 noon in Alor Setar, Kedah.
Cheng Hoe, 53, who is in the UAE with the Harimau Malaya squad for three qualifying matches, will stay put and carry out his duties as head coach for today’s match against Vietnam at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
In Alor Setar, Cheng Hoe’s family hoped that the national coach would be able to guide the team to victory over Vietnam later today despite mourning the demise of his father.
Cheng Hoe’s sister-in-law, Ooi Bee Leng, 57, said the whole family hoped that Cheng Hoe, who is the sixth child of eight siblings, would remain steadfast and help the team win tonight in memory of his father, who had never missed watching matches involving the national team.
“Cheng Hoe could not return in time, so he asked his siblings to handle their father’s funeral. His father’s remains will be cremated on Tuesday.
“My father-in-law had no other illnesses, just that today he had some phlegm so we took him to the clinic at 9 am. He looked a little tired at that time and I also had the opportunity to talk to him about his son having a game (to take charge of) tonight.
“When we reached the clinic, his condition worsened and we took him home, where he passed away. I contacted Cheng Hoe to inform him about his father’s death and, although he was sad, he knew there was nothing much that could have been done as his father was already very old,” she told reporters here today.
Cheng Hoe’s son, Tan Yi Khai, 26, said he called his father today and told his father to focus on tonight’s game and use it as a motivation to strive to win the match for the sake of his grandfather.
Meanwhile, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican have conveyed their condolences to Cheng Hoe and his family.
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