Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh has confirmed that a Football Association of Malaysia (FAM)-approved Malaysian Super League all-star team will face Tottenham Hotspur in an upcoming May 27 friendly.
The decision was reached after local supporters groups called for a boycott on visiting Premier League sides, labelling them ‘circus matches’ and claiming they would have a negative effect on the national team ahead of their busy June schedule.
“I asked FAM to allow me to field an all-star team with at least five foreign players from the Super League,” said Dollah. “Ali Ashfaq, the best foreign player last season, and Brazilian striker Paulo Rangel are on my list to be called up.
“Perak’s South Korean midfielder Namkung Woong and Robert Cornthwaite, the Australian defender who joined to Selangor this season, are also on my radar.”
The move to reduce the burden on Malaysian players will come as a welcome one for fans, who have expressed concern that the lucrative match could impact the country’s chance of a good start in World Cup qualifying.
The 164th-ranked FIFA nation are scheduled to host Timor Leste and Palestine less than two weeks after Tottenham arrive in Kuala Lumpur; the country’s Under-23 team is also scheduled to participate in the fast-approaching 2015 SEA Games.
“It is not that we hate [Tottenham], we don’t hate them, it’s just the concept is not right,” Ultras Malaya member Alfadli Awaludin told Reuters last week.
“Just imagine we are playing Spurs and three of our players are injured, what would happens in World Cup qualifying?”
A Malaysia XI side is also scheduled to welcome Liverpool in July.