Reports emerged after a Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) meet-the-fans session on Saturday that Ong Kim Swee may have to be forced to pull out of the upcoming 2018 Asian Games should the respective teams decide not to release their players for the tournament.
The continent's biggest sporting games will be held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2 and it coincides with domestic schedules on-going in Malaysia. As the tournament in the Asian Games is only a youth tournament, the domestic schedule does not take a break for it.
There's a real possibility that with the Malaysia Cup expected to be played during the same period, that teams will be reluctant to release their players for the national team under the guidance of head coach, Ong.
"As a former national team coach, I know we need to prioritise the national team and think of the greater good that can be achieved by playing in the Asian Games. We have no problems releasing Jafri and Rodney but it depends on discussions with the PKNS management," said Rajagopal after the 1-1 draw against Pahang.
It was a sentiment that was echoed by his counterpart Dollah who could lose up to three players during that period as Matthew Davies, Nor Azam Azih and Faisal Halim have all been included in Ong's call-up list.
"The final decidion rest on the association and the president (Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah)," added Dollah.
With the senior team participating in the AFF Suzuki Cup later in the year, it will be hard for Malaysia Football League (MFL) to stop the existing schedule to accommodate the Asian Games as that might impact on the preparation and readiness of Tan Cheng Hoe's side going into that regional tournament.
The only way for Ong to be able to take a competitive team to Indonesia will be for the likes of PKNS and Pahang to release their players and make do without them for the early stages of the Malaysia Cup competition.