|By Khalis Rifhan
The date for the annual Causeway Challenge has been set for June 4 and 7 as arch rivals Malaysia and Singapore look to battle it out, with new Lions coach Bernd Stange admitting that he is all "set and ready for the big clash" during his unveiling last week.
However, a media report in Malaysia over the weekend indicated confusion in their camp with national coach K. Rajagopal being kept in the dark by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) over their upcoming friendly matches.
"I can’t confirm the fixtures as yet," Rajagopal told sports247.
"We are still waiting to finalise. We want to play three matches [in June]."
Without quoting reliable sources from both camps, it was alleged that the FAM have yet to receive confirmation from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) over the Causeway Challenge, and that Singapore might be sending its Under-23 squad instead of the national team.
It is not surprising that Rajagopal is not in sync with FAM’s plans for his team, as both have been at loggerheads since the coach was hauled up by the disciplinary committee in April for his comments on the organisation’s policy.
Rajagopal was said to have blamed the arrival of import players in the Malaysian League for the lack of good local strikers after a recent loss to Saudi Arabia, but was let off the hook after a thorough investigation by the committee found the coach not guilty of the offence.
Singapore's new coach Stange will officially take office on May 22 and has said that his immediate task is to prepare the national team for the Causeway Challenge.
Last year, both teams played to a 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium but Malaysia ran out overall winners after claiming a 2-0 victory in the return leg at the Shah Alam Stadium.