KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — The Naturalisation Programme is doomed to failure.
It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but that is the unequivocal view of former Malaysian international Serbegeth Singh regarding the impact of naturalised players who have been perceived as the “silver bullet” to raise the standard of the Harimau Malaya squad.
“Sometimes we just need to admit our mistakes, we should not drag the country down just so that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) can prove that the naturalisation programme is a success. If it’s not working, accept it and then move on,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
Serbegeth, who is more famously known as “Shebby” warned that young talent would be sidelined if FAM persisted with naturalised players who are clearly not doing justice to the national badge they don during matches.
The football pundit also did not mince his words over the poor performance of naturalised national striker from Brazil, Guilherme De Paula in two international friendlies against Jordan and Uzbekistan recently.
“He’s a total flop because De Paula is 34 years old and he’s not going to get better and younger. What more is FAM waiting for, for him to score a hattrick against Indonesia, Cambodia or Laos while young players wallow until their development is stymied?
“I will go without naturalised players even for Liridon Krasniqi (Kosovo) and Mohamadou Sumareh (Gambia), because there are so many local attacking talents we have,” he said.
Meanwhile, the former Kuala Lumpur defender proposed that the time is ripe for the coaching staff headed by Tan Cheng Hoe to switch to a 4-3-3 formation from the current 3-4-3, to take on opponents in the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore this December.
He said the reshuffle could help patch up the leaky defence, especially when facing teams ranked higher than Malaysia, who are now 154th in the world.
Malaysia were thrashed 0-4 by Jordan on Oct 6 before being downed 1-5 by Uzbekistan three days later.
In that regard, he said the coaching staff should own up to the fact that the defensive lineup was functioning as well as expected.
“We have a big problem in central defence, as there is no compatibility and rapport between team captain Mohamad Aidil Zafuan Abd Radzak and Muhammad Irfan Zakaria we have also seen Nor Azam Azih and Shahrul Mohd Saad previously, so I hope Dion-Johan Cools will see some action in Singapore later,” he said.
Apart from Dion, Serbegeth said two more players, namely Rodney Celvin Akwensivie and D. Kenny Pallraj had the potential to fill the vacuum at the back.
He said Matthew Davies should play at right-back and La’Vere Lawrence Corbin-Ong at left-back, with both doubling up as wingers, while Baddrol Bakhtiar and Muhammad Akhram Mahinan can pair up in midfield.
Completing his ideal lineup upfront are Muhammad Safawi Rasid on the right and Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim on the left, with Luqman Hakim Shamsudin of Belgian club KV Kortrijk, as the central forward.
He also had praise for Baddrol, whom he said performed well in the matches against Jordan and Uzbekistan, adding that the Kedah Darul Aman FC player’s presence on the field was important for the younger players in the team.
After the 2020 AFF challenge, the national squad will resume the hunt for a slot to the 2023 Asia Cup finals in round three of their qualifying campaign next year. — Bernama