PETALING JAYA: Defender Dion Cools cited injury for pulling out from the national team but surprisingly came on as a substitute for his Danish club Midtjylland on Sunday.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) earlier announced that the versatile player will not be available for the friendlies against Jordan (tomorrow) and Uzbekistan (Saturday) in Amman.
But his 10-minute display against AGF which his club won 4-0 to head the standings have set tongues wagging. Fans began to speculate and many felt his club were not being honest with FAM while others questioned the player’s sincerity in donning the national jersey.
But coach Tan Cheng Hoe brushed aside the accusations.
“Yes, we are aware that it has become an issue. His club informed us that Dion is not 100% fit and the 10-minute playing time was part of his recovery process,” clarified Cheng Hoe.
“Yes, it’s a big loss not to have him. But what’s more i mportant is that we see a fully fit Dion in future. We will monitor his progress.”
Meanwhile, Cools has come out with a clarification on his pullout.
“Everybody knows I am extremely proud to play for Malaysia. It is a big honour and I take it very seriously. Everybody is questioning my absence. So let me sort this out,” he said.
“I had a serious injury and haven’t felt 100% since. The club and I agreed to use this break to work my way back. I hope people understand and respect my decision.”
The 22 players are currently in Jordan and Cheng Hoe said they are doing well in training.
“We’ve been here for two days. The weather is great, the players are looking good. No injuries and all are raring for the Jordan game.
“We have one more training session before we pick the first 11. Jordan have match fitness as they played two friendlies last month. They also have a new coach (Adnan Ahmad), it won’t be easy for us.
“Their approach is now different. Tactically and physically, they have an advantage. When we face a strong team, we have to be ready for their attack. But that does not mean we will defend for 90 minutes. We have our style of play and we will maintain that.”