Malaysia Look Abroad for New Football Talent With Local Roots

APRIL 14, 2015

Kuala Lumpur. With Malaysia languishing in their worst ever position of 164th in the FIFA rankings, the country is searching far and wide for new talent to halt the slide but it refuses to copy the methods used by regional rivals Indonesian and Singapore.

Former Australian international Scott Ollerenshaw, now an agent based in Sabah, said Malaysia were reaching out to players with local "connection" in Switzerland, England and Australia to come to Southeast Asia and try their luck.

"We are not trying to get their citizenship like what Indonesia and Singapore had done before," he told the Star, taking a pop shot at local rivals who used residency rules to recruit foreign players for the national team.

"We need to get players with Malaysian roots to represent the country. I don't agree in giving foreign players in the M-League like [Brazilian] Paulo Rangel and [Nigerian] Dickson Nwakaeme citizenships to play for Malaysia ... for me it's cheating."

Last week, Australian-born Matthew Davies received a Malaysian passport, courtesy of his Sabahan mother, with the 20-year-old Pahang defender now in Malaysia's preliminary squad for the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore in June.

Ollerenshaw is also credited with helping bringing Brendan Gan from Australia and Junior Eldstal from England to play in Malaysia after discovering their ties to the country, who have never qualified for a World Cup and only once won the Southeast Asian championships.

Last week, national team coach Dollah Salleh said the ranking wasn't a fair reflection ahead of Tuesday's qualifying draw for the World Cup and Asian Cup which has Malaysia among the bottom seeds.

"If people know and look at the real situation, they will see the problems I am facing," he told local media.

"For example, the Oman friendly is the only 'A' international match we had this year. Even for that game, we had very little time to prepare."