Putting the COVID-19 pandemic which has hogged the limelight worldwide aside, the issue of overseas players with Malaysian heritage wanting to don national colors has managed to find space in the media of late.
Two such players – Zambian-born Marcel Kalonda and Melaka-born Harry Edge – are keen to play for Malaysia.
Kalonda, 22, who plays center-back, is reported to have been born in Sabah but he has denied that he was born in East Malaysian state. He said: “I was born in the city of Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
It is believed his grandfather was born in Sabah. The FA of Malaysia is checking on the heritage link.
FAM Deputy President Datuk Yusoff Mahadi is the chairman of the Naturalization Program Committee.
He currently plays in Zambia for Zesco United – a team that plays in the CAF Champions League.
Harry Edge, 26, who plays as a defensive midfielder or central midfielder, currently plays for Swedish club Torskanda IK where his father Melaka-born Declan is managing the club.
The striker was born in Tauranga in New Zealand.
Declan is a former New Zealand international who played for the country in the 1980s and 1990s.
But while the FAM had stated that they are still waiting for further evidence of ‘heritage link’, the national body should also look to clamping down hard on football agents who are looking at these opportunities for their own end.
Such agent or agents, in the past, most of whom swooped on Malaysia when the game first went semi-professional in 1989 – was in fact ‘vultures’ who made big bucks and disappeared from the scene when their players turned out to be misfits.
Some of these players carried long term injuries which left the team with a heavy financial burden.
Many teams in Malaysia were left high and dry by such agents and local FA officials.
This ”cooperation” between agents and local officials is still in existence and it is time authorities take a hard look at this ‘disease’ which needs to be wiped out for the sake of clean football. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH