JDT players released from Malaysia squad as coach listens to fans

Nicolas Anil Nicolas Anil

Malaysia national team coach Tan Cheng Hoe releases all 14 Johor Darul Ta’zim players based on fans’ advice for Lebanon game.

Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe has shockingly decided to release all 14 Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) players from the national squad, insisting it was what the fans wanted after the 2-2 draw against Mongolia on Thursday.

“Many people were saying we bias to field so many JDT players against Mongolia. So now we want to give others a chance. Maybe that is what the fans want,” said Tan.

“Football is a game for the fans as well; they deserve to have their say. So that is what we will do,” added the head coach in a bizarre statement.

Safiq Rahim, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Darren Lok, Nazmi Faiz, Safawi Rasid, Fadhli Shas, Fazly Mazlan, S. Kunanlan, Afiq Fazail, Syafiq Ahmad, Adam Nor Azlin, Haziq Nadzli, Natxo Insa and La’vere Corbin Ong were the 14 who were released from national team duties.

Tan has called up Zaquan Adha (Kuala Lumpur), Shahrel Fikri (PKNP FC), Jafri Firdaus Chew (PKNS FC), R. Kogileswaran (Pahang), Nor Hakim Hassan (Perak), Nazirul Naim (Perak), Syawal Nordin (Kedah), Shahril Saari (PKNS) and Syazwan Zaipol (Perak) as replacements.

It is uncertain if JDT had wanted all their players back, but this predicament leaves the national team’s already miserable plight into further crisis.

Tan refused to elaborate further on his shocking decision, but is willing to accept any criticisms for his actions.

“I have decided on this after the Mongolia game. I take all responsibility and will accept the fall if I have to.”

Malaysia have a dead rubber match against Lebanon in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers final group match on March 27, but Tan chances of getting any result would have been boosted with a full strength squad.

This is not the first time JDT players have returned home from national training camp.

In September 2016, Darren Lok, Irfan Fazail and Zaquan Adha was recalled after reporting for training, with JDT and FAM boss TMJ stating he would only release his players four days before they were scheduled to take on Singapore and Afghanistan.

The 21-man squad will leave for Lebanon on Friday night. After that match, they are scheduled to play Nepal in another friendly on Thursday.