The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have vowed to take a firmer stance against “unpatriotic” players who are reluctant to don national colours.
FAM decided to act tough following the premature exit of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) defender Dominic Tan from Malaysia’s under-22 friendlies against their Bahrain counterparts.
Dominic, who was drafted into the Southern Tigers squad from JDT II in July, had showed up for centralised training three days late as Frank Bernhardt prepared his squad for two friendlies against Bahrain U22 on Aug 30 and Sept 2.
The centre-back played in the goalless game on Aug. 30, but did not feature in the 1-0 defeat three days later.
After the FAM annual general meeting on Thursday, U22 team manager Rozabil Abdul Rahman expressed his disappointed about the incident, and called for national prospects to don the national colours with pride.
“We give these young players a chance, but if they do not want to play for the national team, how can we stop them? Players called up must have attitude and heart to represent the country,” said Rozabil.
“At the same time, we also do not want to dictate when we need these players at our disposal. That is why I called upon all clubs to have a discussion on our training programme. But if players still boycott the national call ups in the future, I will address this matter.”
Rozabil also added that Dominic did not feature in the second game as JDT had requested for him to return.
“The management had decided to permit him his return, as they had alternatives and also wanted to give others opportunity. But I am disappointed that this has happened, I don’t how many others are there.
“I would rather take a promising player from a village than someone who thinks his value will drop if he plays for the country,” said Rozabil.
Bernhardt’s side have been tasked to win gold at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
FAM also conceded that the senior team has been poor in its preparations for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup, and 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
“We still have hurdles we have to cross before the AFF Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers. But we are optimistic the team are doing its best to improve,” said FAM deputy president Affandi Hamzah.
Malaysia were routed 3-0 by Indonesia in a friendly on Sept. 6, and yet still moved nine spots higher to 158th in the latest FIFA rankings released on Thursday.