Relief for Declan as he gets picked for Harimau Malaya after two-year wait

PETALING JAYA: It was a long two-year wait for wingback Declan Lambert, so it was a huge relief to him when the call came that he was selected for the national team.

The 25-year-old, who last played for Malaysia in the 2022 King’s Cup in Thailand, has been picked as one of the 26-men to play in the final two Group D matches of the World Cup 2026-Asian Cup 2027 second round qualifiers.

The Kuala Lumpur player, who is on loan from Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), said when the squad was announced on Thursday, many of his City Boys congratulated him, saying it was time that he donned the national colours again.

“It’s been a while since my last call-up, it feels good to be called up again and represent my country. My teammates have been supportive and have congratulated me,” said Declan, whose single cap came when he played against Thailand in the King’s Cup as a substitute.

“It was a bit of both, agonising and biding my time. I just knew if I focused on my performance at club level, then eventually I could potentially get another call-up.

“ I received a call from the assistant coach Pau (Marti) just to check in and give a quick update on this camp.”

But he knows the challenge to get into the first eleven for Harimau Malaya is not going to be an easy one.

“It will be tough to break into the starting 11 as Matt (Matthew Davies) and Corbin (La’vere Corbin-Ong) have established themselves as the national team fullbacks. I just hope I can provide competition for those roles.”

Meanwhile, he will have an assignment with his club before joining the national team on May 28.

Declan will play against his parent club JDT at the Cheras Football Stadium

“I have never been in this position before, playing against my parent club. It’s a strange feeling but this game will be a good chance to prove myself. I normally have the same preparations for any game, so this one will be like every other game.”

Declan, who is of Australian-Malaysian heritage, has been playing for Kuala Lumpur since 2022 and joined the Southern Tigers this year but was moved back to Klang Valley club on loan for the 2024-2025 season.

The former FC Den Bosch player has been Kuala Lumpur’s top player for two seasons now as he is a regular in the defensive line, playing as a rightback or leftback.

“This is only my third year in the Malaysia league but in that short time, I have seen its growth and improvement.

“In the future, I would like to see and experience this league become a giant in South-East Asia and even compete with other top leagues in Asia.”

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