One man looking to make his return to international football when Malaysia take on North Korea on Friday, is none other one of the most consistent player in the M-League, S. Kunanlan. The Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) player has been a stalwart for his title winning club side and now looks to translate that form to the international level.
Kunanlan is one of 10 JDT players in the latest squad called up by Eduardo 'Nelo' Vingada for the double-header against North Korea in the Asian Cup qualification. Having made a u-turn on his international retirement, the right back is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
In the time that he was out, the right back slot have been a battle between Kedah's Rizal Ghazali and Pahang's Matthew Davies. Neither are in the squad this time around for one reason or another and that makes Kunanlan favourites to be given the right sided role.
"Of course, to be called up for national team duty is a big honour. This latest one that I got, I have to prove and do my best for the new coach. There's some adaptation needed but it's on me to be ready and adjust to the coach's ways," Kunanlan told Goal.
At 31 years old, there's plenty of experience in Kunanlan, ones that he can impart on the younger players in the squad. Vingada has called up Nor Azam Azih and Ahmad Khairil Anuar to the trio of youngsters that he included in the previous matches against Hong Kong.
Having tasted glory with Malaysia back in 2011 in the Suzuki Cup, Kunanlan knows what it takes to succeed at international level, although Asian Cup is a different level compared to the Southeast Asian level.
For Kunanlan, he is ever ready to help anyone who comes to him for advice and having gone through the bad times with the national team as well, doesn't want the newer players to suffer the same as he once did.
"I can perhaps provide support to the young players from the back. The national team went through bad times with defeats and criticism, I don't want the players in this squad to do the same, so I'll help and talk to them when necessary," added Kunanlan.
Malaysia need good result in the two straight matches against North Korea to stand any chance of making it to the finals in United Arab Emirates in 2019. With just one point in the group after three matches, Malaysia currently sit bottom of the group behind Lebanon, Hong Kong and North Korea.