The Reds will face a Malaysia XI at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur next Friday as part of their pre-season tour. But, the fixture comes as the Malaysian domestic league nears its climax, and as a result clubs dont' want to release their players.
However, the Football Association of Malaysia is taking a hard stance on the matter, with only players who have received permission from coach Dollah Salleh permitted to miss training for the match.
“Unless they have a valid reason … and prior approval from national coach Dollah Salleh, those called up for training must show up,” FAM secretary general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin told The Star.
It appears that FAM are on a collision course with the clubs though, with Selangor team manager Amiruddin Shari confirming that the three players from his side that were called up to the squad – winger Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, striker Afiq Azmi and Australian centre-back Robert Cornthwaite – will not be released.
“I don’t want to risk injuring the players. I’m waiting for a fitness report first before I decide (whether to allow them to attend the centralised training). The team has a tight schedule in August, where we will play seven matches … the players need to rest,” Amirudinm told The Star.
Pahang's Nigerian striker Dickson Nwakaeme – who is one of five foreign players in the squad – won't be made available for training either, with his club stating that he is still recovering from a leg injury.
“We want Nwakaeme to rest. Pahang are at a crucial stage of the Super League competition and we want our best players available,” said Pahang manager Fahrizal Hassan.
“Unlike other teams, we don’t have depth and options in the first team. So, Nwakaeme has to be match-fit when we resume our campaign against Sime Darby FC on Aug 1.”