Head coach Tomislav Steinbruckner said the demise of skipper and centreback David Faramola Oniya of Nigeria was a big loss to the Premier League side, reports Malaysian online paper, The Star.
“It’s without a doubt Oniya played a commanding role in the team’s strong showing this season. He was a natural leader and well liked by everybody on and off the pitch,” said Croatian Steinbruckner.
The 30-year-old Oniya died on Saturday after collapsing on the field during a friendly against Super League side Kelantan at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru. Oniya collapsed barely three minutes into the game and was taken to the Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (HRPZ II). He was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.
“I am still coming to terms with his sudden demise,” said Steinbruckner.
T-Team chief executive officer Syahrizan Mohd Zain said they would send Oniya’s remains back to his family in Lagos.
“We will make all the necessary arrangements as soon as possible,” said Syahrizan.
FA of Malaysia (FAM) secretary general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said he was shocked when told of Oniya’s death.
“We will get a report from T-Team and Kelantan. We will also look at the medical report on the cause of death. Our sports science unit will conduct a study on the incident as we hope to enhance the safety of all the footballers,” said Hamidin.