National Under-22 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has got his hands tied behind his back with only six players reporting for training in preparations for their 2018 AFC U23 Championship qualification round which will begin on 19 July.

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Deputy President Datuk Wira Yusoff Mahadi, who was also present at the press conference in Glenmarie, announced that FAM have come to terms with the teams to release their players.

“After a series of discussion with the clubs -who have yet to release their players – we have come to an understanding that majority of them will join us later on.

“Before we depart for Bangkok on 17 July, we will be expecting 20 players to join us. So far we have yet to get our confirmation from two sides – Pahang and Penang – but it does look positive,” said Yusoff.

FAM have also requested to postpone their friendly match against Myanmar on 13 July to a day later due to this complication.

Yusoff also added that they have 15 players who have committed themselves and will be expecting another three more players before 12 July.

“To be honest, we have just received written statements yesterday from the clubs stating that they do not want to release their players due to their own problems. Before this, there weren’t any official letters sent to us so we are now looking up to it

“We have also decided not to defer our league matches as it may cause some complications to the clubs especially the foreign players’ contracts,” justified Yusoff.

Coach Ong, however, remained calm despite the up-hill challenges as his boys will be joining the team on seperate occasions.

“I do have another 24 players registered and with the balance I will have to make sure that we compete. Otherwise, we will be sanctioned, fined and even miss the opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification – which will begin end of next year.

“We are looking for the best alternatives to our solutions and we hope the players who have participated and trained in China recently will join us.

“I am aware that there will be some challenges with our training especially with batches of players only joining in from day to day. But with our commitment as a team, I hope we will make it through to the next stage.

“Every team have their own ambitions and difficulties to fight for their respective league titles and they are aware of the rules and rights of when to release their players.

“The teams should have approached us earlier through official written statements as we are ready to listen,” lamented coach Ong. – BY ALVIN OH

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