On Tuesday, Tan Cheng Hoe's latest call-up list saw Mohamadou Sumareh being named in the Malaysia national team squad for the international friendlies against Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan to be the first naturalised player in Malaysian football history to do so
The Gambian-born player would have more reasons to celebrate on the same day as he was also approved to be switched from an import player slot to a local player by the governing body of the league, Malaysia Football League (MFL).
That said, his interview posted on the MFL website later in the day where he talked about the change of his status that will be in effect starting March 2019, some curious facts were revealed that put into his question his elligibility to play in Malaysia in the first place.
"I have lived in Malaysia ever since I was a kid. I trained with the Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer (KLYS) academy as a teenager and then I was offered the chance to join the Steve Biko academy in Gambia. However, I was not offered a professional contract and I am happy to say that my first club was PDRM," said Sumareh in that interview.
Which means that he did not have a prior club when he signed for PDRM back in 2013 who were in the Premier League, then under the guidance of R. Nalathamby. Then the league has yet to be split from Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to MFL.
Under the rules and regulations, import players that are signed by teams in the two divisions (Super League and Premier League) has to have played at a certain division overseas to be elligible for registration.
The notion that he previously don the colours of Steve Biko in Gambia as professional can now be completely disregarded and deemed untrue. Which is to say that Sumareh should not have been allowed to play in the professional Malaysian football structure as he did not meet sufficient requirements to be classified as an import player.
As a player in current form, it is hard to argue that Tan's inclusion of Sumareh is on balance probably the right decision given that the limited options but what is now perhaps more pertinent is whether he should have been the chance to come to this opportunity at all in the first place.
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