Pahang boss Dollah Salleh’s headache has been compounded by several absences from their roster.
Their Lebanese defender Khalil Khamis is unlikely to return to Malaysia in time for the Malaysian league resumption later this month, due to travel restrictions enforced by his country’s government.
Late last week, an accidental explosion that tore through a fireworks factory rocked the city of Beirut and caused over 220 deaths. Over 100 victims have gone missing in the tragedy.
“I have to accept the fact that Khalil will not be rejoining the team and have to wait to find out his status. I haven’t heard from him in a while despite having asked around for him. But what I am sure is that he is not able to return to Malaysia, and only our Filipino import Adam Reed is back with the team,” said Dollah in an interview with the Malaysian Football League, adding that he has been informed that Khalil was not harmed in the explosion.
“It’s a headache trying to prepare the team with Khalil’s absence and Muslim Ahmad’s injury. For now I’ve been fielding the younger players [in friendly matches] because I need to rely on them for the remainder of the season.”
The Elephants’ results in a recent friendly have not been encouraging, a defeat to Terengganu FC II, but the former Malaysia head coach has asked for understanding from their supporters.
“Of course I want to win in every match, but like I said, we’re without several of our key players. Although we lost 3-0 to a Premier League outfit, please don’t judge us too harshly because I used the match to field all our more senior and younger players.
“The result does not matter, because what is important is helping the players combine well in the absence of our key players,” pleaded Dollah.