KUALA LUMPUR – The naturalisation programme of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) is a practical move based on the increasing global nature of the latest world football development, said sports analyst, Dr Pekan Ramli.
In calling on local football fans to give space to FAM in determining the future direction of Harimau Malaya, Pekan said the programme could brighten the prospect of the national squad at international arena.
He also asked supporters to give time to the governing body to streamline the selection mechanism while not handing out punishment hastily based on one tournament.
“As we are aware, FAM has limited choice to naturalise players due to eligibility conditions of FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) which is quite stringent including the requirement for a candidate to reside in the country for five consecutive years.
“I believe if it was carried out through the evaluation of a committee of technical experts and government agencies, the project could yield results…what is important, the decision to grant citizenship to a player should not be decided by an individual in FAM,” he said in a statement today.
Pekan was commenting on the sentiments expressed by some quarters which disputed the naturalisation programme of FAM, more so in fielding three naturalised players, Mohamadou Sumareh, Guilherme de Paula and Liridon Krasniqi who were said to be ineffective in the national squad at the 2022 World Cup/ 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates recently.
At the same time, Pekan called for strict and clear criteria by FAM in the naturalisation programme as an approach to bridge the gap between football powerhouses in the Asian region.
Besides evaluating players in terms of current performance and age, he also proposed that naturalised players should undergo a course in nationhood and national identity as a way to instill loyalty in their duty and responsibility.
Malaysia qualified automatically to the third qualifying round of the 2023 Asian Cup after defeating Thailand 1-0 through a penalty kick by Muhammad Safawi Rasid in the last Group G match at Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai, early Wednesday morning (June16) .
The national squad ended its campaign in the third place with 12 points. UAE topped the group with 18 points, followed by Vietnam (17), Thailand in fourth place (with nine points) while Indonesia came out last with one point.