Lok receives Malaysia passport, cleared to play for JDT II

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Malaysia’s AFF Suzuki Cup hopes have received a significant boost after English-born striker Darren Lok finally received his passport after a four-month wait... 

After four months of frustration, Darren Lok finally received his Malaysian passport, making him eligible to represent his club, Johor Darul Ta’zim II (JDT II) in the Premier League.

Lok, who turns 26 on December 14, has been training with JDT II since June, a month after the English-born striker arrived in Malaysia.

He signed a short-term contract until the end of the season with the Johor-side and was registered during the midseason transfer window, which ended in July.

I am so happy to receive my Malaysian passport. It marks a new chapter in my football career.

Football Malaysia Limited Liability Malaysia (FMLLP) had then given the go-ahead to JDT II to register Lok with the condition that he will only play once he is granted citizenship.

Lok’s availability is good news for the national team as coach Ong Kim Swee is keen to have the player for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November.

Ong needs a prolific striker and Lok could fit the bill and solve Malaysia’s scoring woes in international matches.

Lok was successful in his interview with the Malaysian Immigration Department, who gave their approval in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. He collected his temporary passport and identification card in Johor Bahru today.

If everything goes as planned, Lok will don JDT II’s colours for the first time when they hosts Kuala Lumpur at Pasir Gudang Stadium on tomorrow (Friday).

It will be his first competitive match since he left Eastbourne Borough, a semi-professional club in the Conference South League (a sixth-tier competition in England).

JDT II are battling PKNS to join Premier League champions Malacca in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next season.

“I am so happy to receive my Malaysian passport. It marks a new chapter in my football career. My goals have not changed since the day I arrived here. I want to prove myself with JDT II and make further progress,” Lok told FourFourTwo.

“Obviously, the season is almost over now and it is a shame that I could not play immediately for the club. But things were beyond my control. Hopefully, I would be able to play as soon as possible and make an impression.”

Lok, who is of Malaysian-English parentage, however, is worried that the lack of competitive matches since arriving in Johor could affect his performance.

“I have been training everyday with JDT II and doing work in the gym but it is just not possible to stay match fit without playing any competitive games.

“It has been tough. I do not feel as sharp as I am used to not being able to play in any competitive matches. But I am sure once I start to play, I will regain my match fitness and sharpness again.

“I did play in friendly matches for JDT II but they weren’t many due to the league’s tight schedule.

“But apart from that, I am enjoying every minute of it here. I have settled in nicely with my teammates and keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to play competitive matches regularly.”

On his plans after his contract with JDT II expires by the end of the season, Lok said he would like to remain with the club.

“In my time here, I seen that it is a very well run club with great ambition and support. I am very happy here,” he said.

Darren also said his ultimate goal is to play for reigning AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) one day.

“My goal is to eventually break into the first team. As for now, I want to familiarise with Malaysian football. I am always looking to progress.

“I am impressed with the standard of football in Malaysia. From what I have seen so far the standard is good. Teams want to keep the ball on the floor and play good football,” Lok added.

Main Photo: JDT