Tang Siew Seng Reduan Abdullah

Naturalised footballers: Option, not solution

Would the naturalisation of footballers help raise the standard of Malaysian football?

Two former internationals don’t think so.

Reduan Abdullah and Tang Siew Seng believe the right way forward is spending time, money and energy on the grassroots.

In fact, they took it a step further by questioning the end result of development programmes by various ministries, clubs and state FAs over the years.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was on the same page with FA of Malaysia president Datuk Hamidin Amin – open the national team to naturalised players.

Hamidin, however, stressed development programmes were still essential and that local players would not be overlooked or sidelined.

Reduan and Tang were at BFM (89.9) earlier today for a pre-recorded show as a tribute to former international Chow Kwai Lam who passed away on July 16. The programme will be aired on ‘Bar None‘ at 10am this Saturday.

Here is what they have to say:


“We need to know the quality of the naturalised players. Are we going to lure those who are already in the late 20s or early 30s? Would younger players be interested in playing for Malaysia when they can try their luck elsewhere?

Some people believe we should look at the short term before thinking of the long term (plans). But there are many other aspects that should be considered … will naturalised players help the locals improve their game?

Nations like France and Germany may have players of African or Polish descent but they were born and raised in France and Germany. So came up through rank and file, from a solid system at the grassroots.

That is why I would prefer if we discussed spending time and money on the grassroots.

Injecting naturalised players into the national team is an option, but not a solution for Malaysian football.”


“If you need naturalised players in the national team that means you are not getting players from the grassroots. Why is that so?

Does this mean our many development programmes in the past have failed? Shouldn’t we dissect and study these programmes and reinvent instead?

If the child has been in Malaysia for years and graduated from our system, then perhaps he or she should be considered. Just look at France. They won the World Cup with a team comprising players with African roots but they are all born in France, grew up in the French system and are all Frenchmen.

It’s an option I don’t fancy and certainly not a solution for Malaysian football.”