Gan targets Malaysia call-up
Gan, who joined Malaysian Super League club Kelantan at the end of March, was born and raised in Sydney but qualifies for citizenship through his father.
The 25-year old, who spent three seasons with the Sky Blues from 2008 to 2011, is now in his second stint in the South-East Asian country.
The forward endured a frustrating final season with the harbour-siders, when he says the young players were frozen out of the line-up, but has a positive outlook on the future.
“It was a big decision,” Gan admitted of his Malaysia move.
“My father’s from Malaysia. It’s quite easy to fall into this type of lifestyle. To come here it gives me a chance to focus on what I love doing.”
Gan signed with Kelantan for three years and so far has played just a handful of games for the club, admitting there is no guarantee he will get selected for Harimau Malaya.
“We’ll see how it all pans out,” Gan said.
“Over here there’s a lot of politics. The coaches don’t have a say, it’s usually up to the board. I’ll guess we’ll see in a couple of months.
“It’d be amazing. I can’t think of anyone who would say it’d be bad to play for a national team – just to be one of the squad. It’s the top of the top, you can’t go any higher than to be part of a national team.
“To have that honour, to be able to play for a national team – and I do call it an honour because I am half-Malaysian. It’s not like I’m not proud of who I am or where I’ve come from or where my parents have come from.
“I want to push myself to the very top I can possibly go and that is the national team.”
A Marton Hammers and Sutherland Sharks junior, Gan was named NSW Premier League Player of the year in 2008.
He was signed by Sydney FC that year and after helping the club’s youth team take out the National Youth League Championship, he made his A-League debut in November 2008.
Gan made 41 appearances, scoring five goals, for the Sky Blues before being released in 2011.
He spent the next season with Bonnyrigg White Eagles, then a short spell with Sabah in Malaysia, before seeing out the 2013 NSW Premier League season with Rockdale City Suns.
It took five months for Gan’s citizenship application to be processed and for his official arrival at the club to be confirmed.
“I haven’t really had match fitness so it’s been quite difficult to jump straight into it,” Gan said.
“They expect you to be ready if you’re coming here. The coach has thrown me straight in the deep end. It’s pretty intense at the moment. The body’s definitely feeling it.”
The Malaysia Super League is becoming a popular destination for Australian players and coaches, and Gan believes the competition has improved over the past few years.
“I think Malaysia is definitely up there as one of the best leagues in South-east Asia,” he said.
“It’s grown so much since I was there in 2012. It’s getting bigger and drawing big names like Pablo Aimar. Over here the following for football is absolutely ridiculous. They’re all football fanatics.
“I’ve spoken to a few of the Australian boys and a few of them want to come over here. It’s at the stage in the M-League that if you get in now you could have a lucrative career here. Hopefully it’ll become a bigger destination for Australian footballers.”
After getting a taste of the A-League at an early stage in his career, Gan still harbours ambitions to have another crack at the competition but for now he is focused on seeing how far he can go in his adopted country.
“There’s always in the back of my mind that I’d love to be back in Australia playing in the A-League,” Gan said.
“I know it’s very hard to get back in there once you’re out, especially the way I left the A-League as well.
“Not just myself, every one of the young boys didn’t get an opportunity in that last year really to play a lot of games. I guess that frustrated me the most.
“All the young boys would turn up every training session out 110% in and at the end of it you don’t really get rewarded for all the effort you put in.
“Maybe it is that we weren’t good enough or whatever it is, but at the end of the day, we were part of the squad.
“I would like to go back to the A-League I guess if the opportunity arose but really my mind’s set on staying here in Malaysia and really pushing my hardest here.
“At the moment it’s about playing as much footy as I can because that’s what I love to do. I’m very passionate about it and that’s why I took the risk of coming here for the many years that I’ve signed for.”