West side of Peninsular dominates latest Malaysia squad
The number of players from a particular club that make up a respective national team squad often comes with considerable bragging rights – be it in England, Spain, Japan or Malaysia.
When Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee named his new squad on Friday, it was fairly predictable there was a huge number of players from back-to-back Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
The Southern Tigers had eight players named in the squad, while fellow contenders Selangor had four. East coast sides Kelantan and Terengganu, plus Kedah, could all boast three players each in the Harimau Malaysia squad, while Pahang and Perak had just the one apiece.
In total the squad of 23 only comprised players from six MSL sides, but a closer look at the birth place of these players revealed a very different story.
To the West
The Western side of Peninsular Malaysia was the largest contributor with a hefty 16 players overall, the bulk of which came from Central and Northern Malaysia.
Kedah and Selangor were the biggest contributors to the national team. Four players – skipper Safiq Rahim, Amri Yahyah, S. Kunanlan and Azrif Nasrulhaq – were born in Selangor, while the Kedah-born quartet featured Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Farhan Abu Bakar and C. Chanturu
Amirul, Baddrol, Farhan and Azrif are among the eight players competing professionally close to home. The others are Shahrul Saad (Perak), Fazly Mazlan (JDT), Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan) and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Terengganu).