BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee is open to the idea of selecting Pahang's naturalised Malaysian player Fransisco Javier Insa Bohigues for his team's future matches, but wants the defender's citizenship to be certified by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) before doing so.
Speaking to the press following the monthly national team press conference held at the Malaysian FA (FAM) headquarters on Friday, Kim Swee admitted that the Spanish-born defender, who is also known as Kiko Insa, would be an asset to his team if he were included.
"It (he) will be good for us. We know that the defence is our problem area, so his inclusion will definitely help the team," said Kim Swee.
However what is more important for him is the status of the 29-year old's Malaysian citizenship according to AFC, as Kim Swee does not want complications to arise in the future.
Kiko (centre front row) just before Pahang's Super League match against T-Team last week. Photo by Khairul Hairuddin/CSN
"It (Kiko's future call-up) depends on the status. I have to check first whether he already possesses a Malaysian passport, and we have to go through a lot of processes.
"He's definitely a good player, he would an asset for us, but if the rules state I can call him up and he can play, (only then) I will call him up.
"But we have to know the situation. I cannot simply say 'I want him', only for the AFC to disallow it later," explained the 46-year old coach.
The journeyman is reportedly eligible for Malaysian citizenship as his father is a Malaysian from Sabah. He has played in Spain for Albacete Balompié B and Real Murcia B among many other clubs, as well as Arema FC and Bali United in Indonesia, before joining Pahang at the start of this season. He has played in both Pahang's league matches this season.
Malaysia meanwhile have been drawn in Group B of the 2019 Asian Cup third round qualifiers, alongside North Korea, Hong Kong and Lebanon. They will open their campaign away to North Korea, on March 28.