What will happen to the recent batch of ‘replacement’ players for Harimau Malaya after their 2022 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup campaign?
Will they ever be called back for national duty?
It’s a tricky question. And unless you are a player on your way to retirement, chances are, you haven’t got a clue either.
When a big bunch of players decided to turn down their national call-up, many fans were shell-shocked. Most were spending a good part of their lives imagining what the AFF Cup would be like without the players from Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
Some were hoping that they would slip into the darkness of eternity, waking up only after the AFF Cup ended.
I hate uncertainties. Even though the two friendly matches before the AFF Cup gave everyone some kind of ease, watching those replacement players take to the field on their first match, still had me feeling like my intestinal tract was being pulled slowly out of my bottom.
But it all worked out.
Kim Pan-gon and the boys were not just filling in, they were getting the results we all wanted. And by the time they oppressed the Singaporeans, no one yearned for the JDT boys anymore.
Now, despite coming out of the crisis with a string of impressive results, many happy fans and well-intentioned football observers are anticipating that Kim Pan-gon, as well as the Football Association of Malaysia, will be pushing to restore selections back to “normal”.
They would want to see the team return to “normal,” running the way it ran before the AFF Cup, with players from JDT dominant in the mix.
Crisis compels progress. The unintended effects of JDT’s absence made me realise the actual depth of our football talent pool.
JDT players should now be frightened. Being on the bench of the most outstanding club in the country would not necessarily be an ideal place any longer if you’re hoping for a national call-up.
Incidentally, the ordeal has also granted the opportunity for non-JDT players to be featured on the international stage, giving them the morale boost and motivation to fight for a national call-up. This will only mean greater levels of competitiveness.
More importantly, it will allow the JDT players to go on holiday without being demonised and burned. No sarcasm intended.
And there’s more. This whole crisis has given me a Bonzo idea that could in fact become the most wicked commercial exercise ever – a charity match between JDT and Harimau Malaya.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.