Kosovo-born Liridon Krasniqi is good news for national football head coach Tan Cheng Hoe who hailed the player as a “breath of fresh air” after FIFA, the world football governing body approved his status as a naturalized Malaysian.
FIFA have approved Krasniqi’s application after coming through the five-year residential status in the country which he completed on March 25.
Krasniqi becomes the second naturalized Malaysian footballer after Gambia-born Mohamadou Sumareh who plays for Pahang in the M-League.
Krasniqi is now with six-time Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim after playing for Kedah and last year for Melaka United.
However, Krasniqi will have to wait for a national call-up to don Harimau Malaya colors.
Cheng Hoe knows the Krasniqi’s ”quality and assets” as a footballer.
The former Kedah coach described Krasniqi’s approval as a naturalized Malaysian as a ”blessing in disguise” for the national team’s World Cup/Asia Cup qualifiers later this year.
Malaysia were earlier scheduled to play the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 26. However, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all sporting activities worldwide have come to a standstill.
”He (Krasniqi) has the quality but I have not seen him play for a long time. Other than that physically, technically and tactically Krasniqi is something special,” said Cheng Hoe from Penang.
”Krasniqi is also strong and confident. This is a plus factor for him. Still, we need team training and when this will happen is anyone’s guess due to the movement control order (MCO) and the health ministry’s restrictions and guidelines to check the virus.”
“You need to have match fitness and match temperament. Right now the players have been given personal training programs but this is not enough as we have been grounded for six months.
”Gym training is different from training on your own,” added the former international who is keeping his fingers crossed that the M-League will resume soon. 
Krasniqi is not new to the Malaysian Football League having played for Kedah for four seasons until 2018 before making a pit-stop in Melaka this year. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH
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