Following the confirmation of Sam Somerville's trial at Johor Darul Ta'zim, Lee Seng Foo decided to see if it's possible to assemble a not-so-Malaysian starting XI...
It is interesting to see how the foreign-players-who-can-play-for-Malaysia boom has taken the local football scene by storm in recent years. More will surely pop up in the future, so in the interest of local football, a starting XI of players with legitimate claims to represent the country - and still can qualify to play (hence no Shaun Maloney, who belongs to Scotland now) - has been compiled here.
Of course, there are a few names omitted, such as the aforementioned Sam Somerville, Pahang’s half-Australian defender Matthew Davies and Ben King, the half-English full-back who previously had trials at JDT and Sarawak. Here goes nothing:
Goalkeeper: Syed Adney
The ATM goalkeeper was born in Liverpool, England but began his football career in Malaysia. He has already represented the Harimau Malaya on the international stage.
Right-back: Dion Cools
Arguably the most high-profile half-Malaysian footballer outside the country at the moment, Cools was born in Kuching but moved to Belgium, his father’s home country, at a very young age. He has since represented Belgium Under-19 and has just joined Club Brugge, one of the biggest clubs in Belgium. According to him, the Football Association of Malaysia has yet to contact him about potentially representing Malaysia.
Centre-back: Junior Eldstal
The half-Swedish defensive midfielder, who is capable of operating as a defender as well, returned to Malaysia in 2013 after years of playing in the lower divisions of England. He recently made his first competitive debut for Malaysia in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Timor-Leste.
Centre-back: Curran Ferns
The great nephew of the late Karpal Singh recently had a trial at Johor Darul Ta’zim but reportedly picked up an injury that ended his trial prematurely.
Left-back: Daniel Ting
After spending his entire career playing in England's lower divisions, half-English defender Ting decided to try his luck in Malaysia. He recently had trials at Sarawak, his father’s home state, and Sabah.
Right wing: Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal
Wan Kuzain became well-known in Malaysia after this video of him went viral a couple of years ago. After beginning his career at the US Soccer Academy, he had a trial at Dutch side Feyenoord as well as getting called up to the United States Under-17 team’s training camp.
Midfielder: Tadashi Takeda
The Malaysian-born Japanese defensive midfielder is currently playing for Fagiano Okayama in the second division of the J-League. He has not represented either Japan or Malaysia at any level.
Midfielder: Brendan Gan
Gan gave up his Australian citizenship to join Kelantan as a local player in 2014. At the time of writing, he has not yet represented the Harimau Malaya, but he did turn out for the Under-23 team in the Asian Games last year.
Left wing: Tam Sheang Tsung
Born in Japan to Malaysian parents, Tam was once called up to the Harimau Muda A's training camp but did not manage to impress head coach Ong Kim Swee. After a few years at Shanghai Shenhua and Avispa Fukuoka, he is now playing for Kataller Toyama in Japan.
Forward: Sean Gan Giannelli
A product of the Bukit Jalil Sports School, the Malaysian striker with Italian blood joined the youth team of Italian side Atletico Arezzo when he was 15. He has since returned to Malaysia to continue his development years at Johor Darul Ta’zim IV.
Forward: Darren Lok
The English-born striker is currently plying his trade in England's Conference South for Eastbourne Borough and has expressed an interest in representing Malaysia in the future.