Sydney FC’s Brendan Gan could be idolised by Malaysian fans if the attacking midfielder gets a national team call-up, says Malaysian-based Australian coach Gary Phillips.
Gan, a 22-year-old Sutherland Sharks product, is eligible to play for Malaysia through his bloodlines and in an interview earlier this week said a call up by the Tigers would be an enticing option.
''My inbox [on] Facebook is overflowing with messages from Malaysian fans who want me to come and play for them,'' he told Sebastian Hassett of the Sydney Morning Herald.
''There's been no contact so far from the Malaysian FA but I'd definitely be open to it.''
With his chances of playing for the Socceroos seemingly at long odds for the time being, the Malaysian option may prove a fruitful avenue to international football - particularly so given Malaysia's new direction.
Former national youth coach and now senior boss Rajagopal Krishnasamy has effectively made the national U23 side the national team. Gan at 22 with his pace and penchant for spectacular goals might fit into that vision perfectly as Krishnasamy looks to build for the future.
If there was a call-up, Gan would follow in the footsteps of two other Australian A-League players who’ve recently been called up for nations of their heritage.
Central Coast’s John Hutchinson has been a regular in the Maltese national team for the last year while Phoenix defender Manny Muscat has also been called up by Malta.
Malaysian Premier League coach Gary Phillips says the A-League is clearly strong enough to provide a boost for the150th ranked nation in the world.
“Most A-League players have the qualities to represent the Malaysian national team,” the Sabah FC coach told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“Any team needs more quality and yes he has the potential to represent Malaysia. All national team players here are stars. If he commits to Malaysia he will be idolized,” said Phillips, a former NSL-winning coach and player and FourFourTwo TV pundit in Malaysia.
“Representing Malaysia would provide quality international experience and would therefore improve him as a player. However International football doesn't happen every week.”
Gan joined Sydney in 2008 after an eye-catching season in the NSW Premier League. His first season under then coach John Kosmina went better than expected scoring twice including a cracker against Melbourne Victory – but since Vitezslav Lavicka took over Gan's struggled to make an impact.
However, the pacy midfielder made his first start of the season at AAMI Park against Heart on the weekend playing over an hour.
And he’s back in an extended squad (two to be omitted) for tonight’s clash with Wellington Phoenix at the SFS.
Malaysia have three friendly matches over the next week against Indonesia, Thailand and Laos. They recently made it out of the Asian Games group stage but were knocked out in the round of 16 by Iran 3-1.
Phillips said that if Gan wanted to play in the Malaysian Super League he would be a quality addition who’d be in demand not just in that part of the AFC.
He added: “He could have a very rewarding career throughout Asia in a footballing and financial sense.”