‘Foreign youngsters should push local boys to work harder’ – Selangor FC CEO wants young players to emulate new imports after signing ASEAN wonderkid

Ahead of the 2021 season kick-off, the Selangor reserve team has added three more foreign players and 10 more local boys to its roster.

The Malaysia Premier League team which had listed only two foreign players on their roster in 2020, Selangor FC 2 have since added more import signings.

Although forward Bajram Nebiha has left after the end of the 2020 season, leaving only Singaporean-German midfielder Armin Maier Rafi on the books, the Red Giants’ reserve team has since refilled their foreign signing quota.

In January, they officially announced the loan signings of two Ghanian players; 20-year old striker George Attram and 19-year old defender Jordan Ayimbila from the country’s second-tier side, Accra Lions.

And Goal can now confirm another rumoured signing for the reserve team, after talking to club CEO Johan Kamal Hamidon on Tuesday.

The Red Giants have signed 19-year old Burmese winger Hein Htet Aung from Myanmar National League club Hanthawaddy United.

The teenager had been with Hantharwady since 2018, helping them to a second-place finish in the league last year.

Hein Htet Aung, 2020

Hein Htet Aung (left). Photo from Hanthawaddy United

“Yes, we’ve signed Hein as a future prospect on a multi-year contract. We think he’s a good talent who we can develop into a formidable player,” revealed Johan.

“We think him, George and Jordan can be prepared as future first team players or as players whose sale we can profit from.”

With the players being young, Johan also addressed the risk of them failing to adapt to a new country and environment.

“We looked into a lot of things including their talent and age, before signing them. And these players are looking to progress, coming from countries that are not so well-known and seeing the Malaysian league seen as a step-up for them.

“There’s always a risk that being so young, they would get homesick in a few months and ask to return home. But Michael (technical director Michael Feichtenbeiner) also scouted their attitude and personalities, their willingness to become bigger players. A lot of them come from difficult backgrounds and less-privileged, where football represents a way out. They have a humongous desire to succeed,” explained the club officer, who also credited Feichtenbeiner’s scouting network for identifying these players.

When questioned by Goal whether the signings of the three foreign players to the club’s reserve team, on top of the one who is already on their books Armin, will deprive local boys of the chance to shine, Johan responded:

“The most important thing is the quality of development that we offer the local boys. In any football set-up there’s always a big base with a small peak; only a few will make the cut at the elite level. Our focus is still on developing young players, local foreign, with the few who are exceptional eventually progressing to the first team.

“Having young foreign players should push the local ones to work harder and engage in knowledge transfer. The foreign ones are not much better than our local boys; they are simply more determined and disciplined. We want the local boys to emulate these qualities.

“It’s not a reflection of the local talent pool because we have talent in all departments either. They (Selangor 2’s recent foreign signings) are just good talents that we really want at the club. We like them and that’s why they’re on board. Our goal is still the same, what has changed is only the approach,” he affirmed.

He also added that the club have snapped up a total of 10 recent graduates from the national academy the Mokhtar Dahari Academy (AMD), in preparation for the coming season. National news agency Bernama had earlier reported that the number is six, but Johan told Goal that four more were lated later.

Ahead of the 2020 season last year, the first competitive season for the reserve team, the club signed 28 of the first batch of graduates from the academy that had been launched in 2014, to their reserve and junior teams.

“We had earlier signed six boys for this season, but later added four more.”