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Malaysia coach eyes Club Brugge defender Cools
Published on: Thursday, July 13, 2017

Kuala Lumpur: Belgian-Malaysian defender Dion 'Johan' Cools, who is named by his parents after former football stars Dion Dublin and Johan Cruyff, is wanted by national coach Nelo Vingada.

Though Cools is focusing on his football in Europe, Vingada has offered the 21-year-old, who plays for Belgian 14-time champions Club Brugge KV, a chance to play for Malaysia, reported the New Straits Times.

"I have sent him an e-mail with the offer and I am waiting for his reply. We have been doing some 'investigations' in search for players who are eligible for a Malaysian passport," said Vingada.

"Cools is among those we are looking at. We are not sure whether he is keen to play for Malaysia but there is no harm in trying. He is only 21 and plays for Club Brugge, which is a top club in Belgium."

Cools, who has played at various youth levels for Belgium, is a regular for Club Brugge with 30 appearances last season.

He has played in the Champions League and was named in last season's Belgian first division Under-22 Young Players' Team of the Season.

"If you look around the world, there are many players like this. Deco and Pepe are Brazilians but they play for Portugal."

The Portuguese said he is also monitoring the progress of the heritage players who have been granted Malaysian citizenships and are currently registered as locals with M-League clubs.

"I had Australian-born Matthew Davies in the training squad in June but he got injured ahead of our opening Asian Cup qualifying match against Lebanon.

"I am looking at some naturalised players in our league but some need to get clearances from the Asian Football Confederation to play for the country," he added.

It is learnt that recently naturalised holding midfielder Natxo Insa, who joined Darul Ta'zim last month, is in Vingada's list of trainees for next month's training camp.

Levante's Insa obtained a Malaysian passport through his grandmother's roots in Malaysia.

His brother, Kiko, is also a naturalised player with Pahang.

Among the naturalised players who have played for Malaysia are Brendan Gan, Matthew Davies, Junior Eldstal and Darren Lok.

The other naturalised players who could earn call-ups soon are Felda United duo Stuart Wark and Curran Ferns.

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