US-based teenager Wan Kuzri Wan Kamal joined the Malaysia U-19 centralised camp on Thursday, garnering significant attention from the local sports media.
It was not only reporters and journalists who were present at the Malaysian FA (FAM) headquarters, as Kuzri's arrival was also followed by the arrival of Malaysia's deputy youth and sports minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, who turned up for an informal visit.
However, Fayhsal's visit also happened to be a personal one, as he and the 18-year old player are actually brothers. After he was accompanied to the pitch by FAM officials, he took the time to speak to Kuzri during a water break in the team training.
But when speaking to the press afterwards, the 33-year old politician insisted that the attention must not be on his brother alone.
"The hype must not be on him alone. He is only one player out of those called up for the camp, and every single one these Malaysia U-19 hopefuls deserve our support. They need to compete among each other for a place on the final squad.
"But I welcome by brother's arrival after having undergone a 14-day precautionary Covid-19 quarantine. When I talked to him, he was very, very eager to play for Malaysia U-19," said the politician who was appointed to the post in March this year.
He also denied having a role in persuading the St. Louis FC academy player to return to their father's home country, saying that his younger brother needed no convincing from their family.
"My only part in getting him here, in an indirect manner, was when I talked to our father (Wan Kamal), but at the end of the day, the desire to come to Malaysia is all Kuzri's.
"Our father never forced him to do it and he is here because he wants to be here, which should bode well for the future of Malaysian football. Hopefully he chooses to remain with us," he noted.
Fayhsal's visit also allowed Goal to ask the politician a cheeky question that has long been in the back of our minds: with of two of his younger brothers looking to embark on a career as a professional footballer in the US, did he ever seriously consider playing pro football as well?
Kuzri and Fayhsal's brother, 21 year old Wan Kuzain plays for Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City's reserve team. Late last year he attended a Malaysia U-23 centralised camp, but a documentation hiccup prevented him from joining the team in the Southeast Asian Games.
"My involvement in football was only at the school level, when I played in the Pudu zone (in Kuala Lumpur) in 2004.
"I used to play rugby for the Kuala Lumpur U-19 team, but that was as far as my sporting career ever got to!" answered Fayhsal good-humouredly.
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