Overseas-based Luqman, Cools named in Malaysia's preliminary AFF Suzuki Cup squad

2010 AFF Suzuki Cup winners Malaysia will be gunning for a second title at the upcoming tournament, after narrowly falling short last time out as they lost to Vietnam in the 2018 final. AHMAD YUSNI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The overseas-based duo of Luqman Hakim Shamsudin and Dion Cools looks set to feature for Malaysia at the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup after both were named in coach Tan Cheng Hoe's 28-man preliminary squad on Wednesday.

Given the Suzuki Cup does not fall within the official FIFA international window, there was initially uncertainty if Kortrijk forward Luqman and Midtjylland defender Cools would be available as clubs are not obligated to release the players.

Nonetheless, both have been called up to Harimau Malaya's pre-tournament training camp, although players will report at various intervals depending on whether they still have club commitments with the Malaysia Cup still ongoing and only concluding with the final on Nov. 21.

Unsurprisingly, Johor Darul Ta'zim -- who have won the past eight Malaysia Super League titles - are the most-represented team with seven players called up, although not without a couple of notable absentees.

Left-back La'Vere Corbin-Ong, a mainstay of the team since winning his first international cap in 2019, was omitted, while there was also no place for Arif Aiman, who is widely regarded as the hottest prospect in Malaysian football at the moment.

Apart from Luqman and Cools, the Malaysia squad also features two others based abroad in Dominic Tan and Junior Eldstal, who currently ply their trades in the Thai League 1 for Police Tero and Chonburi respectively.

There was also a recall for Petaling Jaya City striker Darren Lok, who led the Malaysia attack at the 2016 Suzuki Cup but has not featured for the national team since the following year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams will be allowed to name squads of up to 30 players although Malaysia have confirmed the 28 players involved in the training camp will be trimmed down to a final 24-man roster.

After being postponed from last year, the 2020 edition of Southeast Asia's premier international competition, will take place from Dec. 5 to Jan. 1, 2022 in Singapore, with 2010 winners Malaysia drawn in Group B alongside defending champions Vietnam and fierce rivals Indonesia, as well as Cambodia and Laos.

Harimau Malaya will be gunning for a second regional crown at the tournament, having fallen just short last time out in 2018 when they were beaten by the Vietnamese in the final.

Malaysia preliminary squad for 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup

Goalkeepers: Khairulazhan Khalid (Selangor), Khairul Fahmi (Melaka United), Azri Abdul Ghani (Perak)

Defenders: Aidil Zafuan, Shahrul Saad (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Rizal Ghazali, Ariff Farhan (Kedah Darul Aman), Syahmi Safari (Selangor), Arif Fadzilah (Terengganu), Quentin Cheng (Penang), Junior Eldstal (Chonburi), Dominic Tan (Police Tero), Dion Cools (Midtjylland)

Midfielders: Syafiq Ahmad, Mohamadou Sumareh (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Baddrol Bakhtiar, Fayadh Zulkifli (Kedah Darul Aman), Mukhairi Ajmal (Selangor), Akram Mahinan, Kenny Pallraj (Kuala Lumpur City), Kogileswaran Raj (Petaling Jaya City)

Forwards: Akhyar Rashid, Safawi Rasid, Guilherme (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Shahrel Fikri Fauzi (Selangor), Faisal Abdul Halim (Terengganu), Darren Lok (Petaling Jaya City), Luqman Hakim Shamsudin (Kortrijk)

Standby list: Kalamullah Al-Hafiz (Petaling Jaya City), Rodney Akwensivie (Kedah Darul Aman), Hakimi Abdullah (Terengganu)