Malaysia banking on first foreign-born star M. Sumaresh to deliver the goods

Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Malaysia’s international friendly against Sri Lanka on Friday will be the first time a foreign-born naturalised player dons the famed national team jersey.

Pahang FA’s 27-year-old attacker Mohamadou Sumaresh has been granted Malaysian citizenship last week and has been called up by head coach Tan Cheng Hoe for their upcoming friendlies.

This is the first time a foreign-born player has been awarded citizenship and the forward who scored nine goals in 38 appearances since joining Tok Gajah in 2017 is expected to go straight into the starting lineup.

Malaysia are set to take on Sri Lanka in Colombo on Friday before heading back to Malaysia to play Kyrgyzstan on October 16. They round off their preparations for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup with one last friendly on November 3 against Maldives.

The Harimau Malaya will be hoping to add a second AFF Cup title after their 2010 triumph and are in Group A alongside Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

While Sumaresh joined the team in their Malacca base later than expected, head coach Tan has challenged the talented winger to prove his credentials and repay the country’s faith in him.

“I was informed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin that Sumareh will join us and it’s a huge relief for me to get the good news,” Tan told The Star.

“I hope Sumareh can prove his abilities and repay the faith we have in him in the upcoming international friendlies.”

The player himself is also keen to get his international career started and will be hoping to get his first cap for Malaysia in Colombo.

“PFA (Pahang) have released me to join the national team and although I’m late for training, I’ll be with the team and will be on the flight to Colombo,” Sumaresh said.

“It’s not a major issue and I’m glad that everything ended well. I’m excited to join the team.”

Malaysia kick off their Suzuki Cup campaign on November 8 away to Cambodia in Phnom Penh where Sumaresh may come up against his old Pahang teammate, Chan Vathanaka.

Photo credit: Pahang FA

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