Sumareh dumps Gambia for Malaysia

Gambia-born forward Mohamadou Sumareh is set to become the first foreign football player to represent Malaysia.

The Fajara-born player last week earned his maiden call-up to the Malayan Tigers since acquiring his citizenship.

The 27-year-old, who became a naturalized Malaysian in July after living in the country since the age of 12, was among six new players called up by head coach Tan Cheng Hoe for upcoming friendly matches against Sri Lanka on October 12 and against Kyrgyzstan on October 16.

Despite having no blood ties to Malaysia, the son of Gambian business tycoon M. Sumareh Enterprise, may now turn out to be the talisman the Malayan Tigers need. If he gets his act right in the upcoming friendlies, Malaysia can look ahead with confidence towards making a strong bid to regain the Suzuki Cup they last won in 2010.

Sumareh has taken his call-up with great delight and says he hopes to repay Malaysia for everything the country has done for him all these years.

The former Maz International School and Segi College student feels he is indebted to Malaysia for granting him citizenship and also to include him in the national training squad despite some people back home in Gambia being unhappy with his move.

“The Gambia coach has always supported me, he’s not mad or angry, and my decision was in the news there. Some, however, have questioned why I have opted not to represent Gambia. It is simple... I am proud to call Malaysia my home now,” said Sumareh, who started his professional career with Police in the M-League in 2013.

On the national call-up, Sumareh said life has been pretty hectic and that the pressure is mounting on him to prove his worth.

“I feel a little bit of pressure because people on the street recognize me and are coming up and saying they want to see me play. So now, I have to prove my worth to all Malaysians. It’s crazy.”

Sumareh reported for his first national training session at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka today.