PETALING JAYA: Midfield maestro Ignacio “Natxo” Insa Bohigues will finally make his appearance for Malaysia.
Having previously played in Spain for a list of clubs that included Valencia, Villarreal, Celta Vigo, Real Zaragoza and Levante, Natxo is set to be given the role of firing up the national team’s engine room.
His first test will be against Mongolia in a friendly match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Thursday, followed by the final Group B Asian Cup qualifying group match against Lebanon in Beirut on March 27.
Natxo took up Malaysian citizenship after signing for Johor Darul Ta’zim at the start of last season. He became a naturalised player through his Sabah-born grandmother.
The 31-year-old opted to delay donning the Harimau Malaya jersey as he wanted some time to acclimatise to the M-League but his younger brother Francisco Javier Insa, better known as Kiko Insa, signed for Pahang last season and went on to make six appearances with the national team.
Natxo, who played a key role to help JDT win the Super League and the Malaysia Cup last season, is now expected to work his magic on the national team.
“I’m happy to be here. We’ve a mixed squad of young and experienced players and we’re building a team for the future,” said Natxo at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
“Having my teammates from JDT here is a good thing because I know their playing style. I’ve also played against the other players here in the M-League.
“I will get to know my teammates better in this short time to prepare for the next match.
“My brother is in the team. We have never played together and hopefully, both of us will be chosen to play for the national team,” said Natxo.
Kiko, who’s the only Malaysian playing abroad with Thai side Bangkok Glass, could not join the training yesterday as he was down with an eye infection.