BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Almost all of the 30 players called up to Malaysia U-23's Asian Games training camp have turned up on the first day. Almost.
Pahang captain Matthew Davies and his club teammate Azam Azih were missing on Monday, although the other two players from Pahang who have also been called up; Faisal Abdul Halim and R. Kogileswaran have arrived.
More bizarrely, just a few hours earlier, Davies had been spotted attending the Malaysia Cup draw event that was held in Damansara, just 10 kilometres north of the Malaysian FA headquarters in Kelana Jaya, as Pahang's representative.
Malaysia U-23 manager Datuk Wira Yusoff Mahadi, when met by the press during the team's training session in the evening, urged the Elephants to release the pair ahead of the Young Tigers' friendly match against China U-23 on the following Monday.
It is believed that Pahang are reluctant to release Davies and Azam as the club, who have been hit with an injury crisis, will take part in the Malaysia Cup beginning this weekend, with the tournament taking place around the same time as the Asiad.
"Only 28 of the 30 players called up by the head coach (Datuk Ong Kim Swee) have arrived for the first day of camp. The remaining two; Pahang's Matthew Davies and Azam, are yet to join the team.
"And I say 'yet to join' instead of 'will not join' in the hopes that they will arrive tomorrow (Tuesday), and because we have not received any official letter from Pahang stating that the two will not be joining the squad at all.
"They need to be here at the latest tomorrow because the team will depart for China, and their travel papers need to be sorted out by Thursday or Friday. I hope that whatever problems faced by the club and the two players will be rectified soon, so they can be here tomorrow," said the Malaysian FA deputy president.
Yusoff also hopes that Pahang will emulate the cooperation shown by the other clubs who have allowed their players to join the camp, despite the fact that FIFA rules do not compel any club to release their players for tournaments that are not run by FIFA, such as the Asian Games' football competition.
"Of course it isn't compulsory for Pahang to release Davies and Azam, but the other clubs have shown their cooperation, such as JDT who released nine of their players.
"They all understand our objective; to help the Young Tigers improve as the team have shown potential. Pahang must not shy from this push," he remarked, adding that he would contact the club in the evening.
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