From Eldstal to Davies, Somerville to Swirad: How has Malaysia’s foreign flavour been faring?

English-born Darren Lok is expected to play for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II. Vijhay Vick takes a look at many mixed-heritage players that have assumed their Malaysian identities....

Junior Eldstal

Swedish-Malaysian | 24 | Central-midfielder | Johor Darul Ta’zim

The one that got the ball rolling. Since Eldstal returned to Malaysian shores to sign for Sarawak in 2013, there have been more efforts to bring back those with roots to the country in hope they could bolster Malaysian football.

READ ALSO: Homesick and injury-prone, but Eldstal refuses to yield

Now with Malaysian champions JDT, the 24-year-old remains key in the club’s future plans but he will first have to stay injury-free, something the midfielder has struggled to do during his time in Malaysia.

Eldstal was called up to the national team by then-coach K. Rajagobal in 2013 and later appeared for the under-23 side at the 2013 Merdeka Tournament and 2014 Asian Games. He made a return to the senior team under Ong Kim Swee and has impressed many with his work-rate, though he lacks agility.

Brendan Gan

Australian-Malaysian | 28 | Central-midfielder | Kelantan

Interestingly, Gan played for Sabah as an import player in the 2012 Malaysia Premier League (MPL) season before opting for a Malaysian passport – due to his father's roots – in 2014.

READ ALSO: Gan ready to answer Malaysia’s call

He signed for Kelantan and was among the core players in Kelantan’s mini-revival under George Boateng that season and was expected to play a key figure in the 2015 season, only to miss the entire year due to a knee injury suffered on the opening day of the Malaysia Super League (MSL) season.

The injury also delayed the former A-League midfielder’s international debut, but Gan returned with conviction in 2016 and delivered standout performances for club and country. He started seven of Malaysia’s eight matches since making his debut against Saudi Arabia in March.

Rodney Celvin Akwensivie

Ghanaian-Malaysian | 19 | Centre-back | Sarawak

Akwensivie has a build the Malaysians could really use in the heart of defence but this Bidayuh-Ghanaian has yet to make the step-up to senior team football despite playing for Sarawak’s under-21 side since the age of 16.

READ ALSO: Meet Sarawak’s young defender who qualifies to play for Malaysia and Ghana

The Sarawak sports school (SMK Tabuan Jaya) product was called up to the Malaysian under-21 squad in March but failed to make a lasting impression and did not even make the squad for the Nations Cup and training camp in China last month.