BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday evening released a brief statement that it has suspended the round of 16 AFC Cup match between Indonesian side Persipura Jayapura and Pahang, which was scheduled to be played on May 26. It explained that it is conducting an investigation into why a number of Pahang players were denied entry into Indonesia, en route to Jayapura, and a report will be submitted following the conclusion of the investigation.
After finishing the group stage of the 2015 AFC Cup in the second place in Group G, Pahang were drawn to play Group E winners Persipura in the single-legged round of 16 stage.
On Sunday morning, reports emerged that three of Pahang foreign players, forward Dickson Nwakaeme and defenders Zesh Rehman and Damion Stewart were stopped from proceeding with the rest of the team by the immigration, apparently because they did not possess the necessary visa.
The trio were barred from entering Indonesia because citizens from their respective countries, Nigeria, Pakistan and Jamaica do not qualify for on-arrival visas in Indonesia.
The Pahang website explained in a news report that according to team manager Fahrizal Hassan, “We had done everything in our means to seek assistance in obtaining visas for our players.”
“We had asked PSSI to provide us supporting letters since last week... even requested through FA of Malaysia. We were told it would be issued upon arrival. (But) there were no PSSI officials at the airport when we ran into complications.”
Fahrizal further told the website that they then decided to spend the night at the airport as a show of solidarity with their three teammates who were being detained overnight, before flying back to Malaysia the following morning.
The news report in the Pahang website claims that although up to a month’s time is required to process a visa application, the round of sixteen draw was only known two weeks before they were due to arrive in Indonesia, and as such the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) was obliged to assist in securing the necessary travel clearances.
On his Twitter account, Fahrizal made several more claims over, that PSSI had been negligent in its handling of Pahang’s travel applications, and that an Indonesian embassy staff in Kuala Lumpur has agreed that PSSI’s applications were incomplete.
However, a CNN Indonesia news report on Monday claimed that the Indonesian embassy in KL has denied ever receiving Pahang’s visa applications. The report also added that the embassy will ask Pahang to prove that they have indeed made the applications.