PETALING JAYA – By ERIC SAMUEL: The national team suffered a cruel blow ahead of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup title defence when striker Mohd Safee Sali (pic) was banned indefinitely by the All-Indonesia Football Association (PSSI).
Safee has been banned for representing Pelita Jaya FC in the Indonesia Super League (ISL), which is not recognised by PSSI.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have been informed of the ban by PSSI.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad confirmed yesterday that PSSI have sanctioned all 32 clubs affiliated to the illegal ISL, which includes officals and players registered with the clubs.
“We received a letter from PSSI (dated on Oct 5) on Wednesday informing us of the status of the suspended clubs. There were no names mentioned but, upon checking with the PSSI secretary, he told us that Safee’s name was on the list,” said Azzuddin yesterday.
“This is in line with a directive by FIFA that players and clubs in the illegal ISL will be barred from FIFA competitions and not allowed to play for their national teams.”
Safee, Malaysia’s first millionaire footballer, signed a two-year deal worth more than RM2mil with Pelita Jaya FC last year.
The former Selangor star played a big role in the national team’s success when he scored five goals en route to helping Malaysia lift the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010.
But Safee’s career in Indonesia has been marred by a leadership crisis in the PSSI, which resulted in the division of the professional leagues.
Azzuddin said the PSSI have enforced the ban after peace talks between the two parties (PSSI and ISL) broke down in the middle of this year.
“I won’t know how long the ban is … but from what I gather the suspension is until PSSI hold their next Congress in December,” he said.
National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal is hoping that the parties concerned will resolve the issue.
“I am positive that all will go well. It will be a big loss to lose a striker of Safee’s calibre,” he said.
The AFF Suzuki Cup kicks off from Nov 24-Dec 22.
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