English-born Darren Lok to play for JDT II

Second-tier side Johor Darul Ta’zim II will be Lok’s playing ground as he gets accustomed to his new home in Johor while Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee is likely to keep track of the 25-year-old’s performance. 

Malaysia’s search for a striker will turn to the Malaysia Premier League after Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) confirmed English-born Darren Lok will play for their development side JDT II in the second tier.

Lok, who last played in Eastbourne Borough, a semi-professional club in England's sixth-tier Conference South League, has been training at the club since May and even temporarily trained with the senior team under Mario Gomez.

Lok is JDT II’s second signing this month after confirming Brazilian centre-back Rafael De Jessus Bonfim as the club’s fourth import a fortnight ago.

“He is a player with speed and clever movement and the plan is for him to play with JDT II for the remainder of the season to facilitate his adaptation to Malaysia football,” said JDT sports director Alistair Edwards.

“Among all the mixed-heritage players, Darren Lok looks the most promising. He also gains respect from the locals as well as the foreign players. We are certainly very excited with his talent and look forward to see him in action.”

JDT II had previously signed a host of mixed-heritage players such as Samuel Somerville, Nicholas Swirad, Curran Ferns, Stuart Wark and Shazalee Ramlee but they have somewhat failed to grab attention, some even failing to even make the bench.

Lok qualifies for a Malaysian passport as his father hailed from Malacca and moved to England at 21.

Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee was eager to include Lok in the Tigers’ squad for the Asian Cup qualifying playoff against Timor Leste and the Ocenia Tour but the 25-year-old failed to obtain his Malaysian citizenship in time.

If Lok’s career with JDT II takes off, he could be on the plane to either Philippines or Myanmar for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup come end of the year.

Ong is eager to pair Lok with his former Harimau Muda star Ahmad Hazwan Bakri in the national team.