Cheng Hoe keeps faith in trio despite criticisms

New normal: Malaysia’s naturalised player Liridon Krasniqi shielding the ball from a Bahraini player during their friendly in Manama. — Pic courtesy of FAM

KUALA LUMPUR: Only time will tell the success story of naturalised football players in Malaysia.

That’s what national head coach Tan Cheng Hoe strongly believes as he relies heavily on three players to bring some impact to the Harimau Malaya as they embark on their mission in the World Cup 2022-Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) trio are Mohamadou Sumareh, Guilherme De Paula and Liridon Krasniqi, who was loaned out to Australian club, Newcastle Jets.

Malaysia will take on UAE in Group G on Thursday before playing Vietnam and Thailand.

Cheng Hoe said the situation was quite easy for the country’s first naturalised player Sumareh as he had joined the national squad for the qualifying campaign since September 2019.

But it was not the case for Krasniqi and De Paula because they joined the team under difficult circumstances.

“But both of them (Liridon and De Paula) are trying their best in every game and also in training sessions.

“They have shown 100% commitment, ” said Cheng Hoe during a virtual press conference.

“I think the trio (naturalised players) can make the best contribution to the squad this time around.”

Yesterday, national football legend Datuk Santokh Singh expressed his disappointment with the performance of the naturalised players in Harimau Malaya’s two recent friendlies, where they lost.

The former national and Selangor defender also questioned the need for the national team to use the services of naturalised players, who he said have not made any major impact on the international stage.Harimau Malaya lost 1-4 to Kuwait in a warm-up match in Dubai last week before going down to Bahrain 0-2 on Saturday.

However, Brazilian-born De Paula, 34, scored on his debut against Kuwait. — Bernama

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