A late ruling barring players registered in the Super League, Premier League and the FAM League in the M-League from playing for their teams in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) has caught many by surprise.
However, President’s Cuppers are eligible to play in Sukma which Perlis will host from May 24-June 4.
Johor is one of the teams affected by the ruling and coach Ramlan Rashid will have to make do without two of his influential players – leftback Fazli Mazlan and midfielder Mohd Akram Mahinan.
Both, Fazly and Akram are registered with Johor Darul Takzim II currently playing in the second tier Premier League but also play for the President’s Cup team.
“The two are influential players in my team and without them it has affected my plans for the team in Perlis,” said Ramlan, adding that Johor are ready for any eventualities.
Johor are drawn in D and have Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan for company in the three-team group. Johor need to win only one match to advance to the quarter-finals and play Kelantan in their first match on May 26.
Incidentally, Johor played Kelantan in the two-leg President’s Cup quarter-finals and knocked out the defending champions 6-3 on aggregate. Kelantan won the first-leg 3-2 in Kota Baru but Johor beat the East Coast side 4-0 in the return-leg in Pasir Gudang.
Ramlan, however, is not too concerned with the ruling because other teams, just like Johor, are also affected by the ruling. Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu are among the teams said to have players who are registered with Super, Premier and FAM Leagues.
Johor have never won the football gold medal, often dubbed the “Mother of all Golds” and their best was finishing runners-up to Negeri Sembilan in 2004.
“Our target in this year’s Sukma is to reach the final at least. We have a fairly strong side for the challenge in Perlis,” added Ramlan.