KUALA LUMPUR: The FA of Malaysia (FAM), in a bid to inject quality to their leagues, have decided to increase the number of foreign players from two to four in the new football season.
Teams in the new top flight eight-team Super League, which replaces Premier I, and the 18-team Premier League, which replaces Premier II, can hire four foreigners but can only field three of them in a match.
The FAM's deputy president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, said that the decision to allow teams to hire one more foreign player was to ensure that they would not be too depleted when key players are out on suspension or because of injuries.
“The idea is to get quality and entertaining matches for the fans. So it is for the teams to go out and buy the good ones,” said Tengku Abdullah, who cited Malaysia Cup champions Selangor MPPJ's Argentine duo of Juan Manuel Arostegui and Bruno Sebastian Martelotto as the shining examples.
Striker Arostegui won the Golden Boot in Premier II with 33 goals and wrapped up the season with a total of 50 goals, including all the goals in the 3-0 win over Sabah in the Malaysia Cup final.
Martelotto was also inspiring with his darting runs and vision from midfield for the Premier II club.
The new season will start early with the Charity Shield match between Selangor MPPJ and Negri Sembilan scheduled for Jan 17. It will also count as a Premier League match.
The opening round of the league will be played on Jan 31 with matches in the Super League.