| KUALA LUMPUR (11 Dec 2010) – The Malaysia national team will not go along the way of several teams in the ASEAN region and take in imports to power the cause of their national team further.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports, said this week that by taking in imports, it is just a short term measure and that it would have impeded their programme in wanting to produce world-class athletes from locally bred players.
“Our development programme is going on very well at the moment,” said Shabery.
“And even though we have decided to compete without using foreigners, it has proven to be a successful model and we have achieved some measure of success.
“We did at the recent Commonwealth Games and also the Asian Games. Our position is the best among countries in the ASEAN region with several using foreign athletes who were given citizenships.”
Shabery made the statement following questions from the Indonesian media if Malaysia will be considering using imports to further the cause of the national side.
In the on-going AFF Suzuki Cup 2010, Indonesia are using two foreigners – Cristian Gonzales from Uruguay and also Irfan Bachdim (Indo-Dutch).
Not to mention too the string of foreign players playing for Singapore and also Peter Laeng (Thai-Swiss) for Thailand.
Vietnam had also given citizenships to more than ten players including Pham Van Santos (formerly from Brazil) and Huynh Kesley (Brazil) although this is motivated more by propelling the quality of the national league rather than the national side.
None of the Vietnam ‘imports’ are playing for the country in the on-going AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 and as chief coach Henrique Calisto said recently, it is unlikely that he will be changing his ‘locals only’ policy anytime soon.
Shabery admitted that while Malaysia did some foray in enquiring imports for the Commonwealth Games back in 1998, that programme has been stopped almost as immediately as it was started.
“Malaysians are more supportive of the idea of developing our own athletes in our own backyard. The effect and the results are more long-term and we are less dependent on foreigners,” he added.
Malaysia’s qualification into the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 will be rewarded obviously and Shabery has spurred the team to work even harder and qualify for their first final since 1996.
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2010, SEMI-FINALS FIXTURES
First-leg – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (BUKIT JALIL NATIONAL STADIUM, KUALA LUMPUR)
15 Dec Malaysia vs Vietnam (2000hrs)
First-leg – Jakarta, Indonesia (GELORA BUNG KARNO STADIUM, JAKARTA)
16 Dec Philippines vs Indonesia
Second-leg – Hanoi, Vietnam (MY DINH NATIONAL STADIUM, HANOI)
18 Dec Vietnam vs Malaysia (2000hrs)
Second-leg – Jakarta, Indonesia (GELORA BUNG KARNO STADIUM, JAKARTA)
19 Dec Indonesia vs Philippines