Melaka United's veteran forward Amri Yahyah won't face up to his old team Johor Darul Ta'zim in the Malaysia Super League on Sunday because of a gentleman's agreement between the newly promoted side and the Crown Prince of Johor (TMJ).
National captain Amri left Johor Bahru at the end of last season after getting limited opportunities with the MSL champions, becoming a key attacker for Melaka while wearing his favourite No. 17 jersey.
But head coach Eric Williams will have to reluctantly leave out the 36-year-old for the trip down the North-South highway.
"There's a gentleman's agreement between [JDT owner and new FAM president] TMJ and our Datuk that Amri wouldn't play against his parent club, even though we've made him a permanent signing," Williams told ESPN FC.
"He's disappointed that he's not going to play and we'll miss him."
But they'll be focused on continuing their push for a fourth consecutive league title. They're third on the MSL table, four points behind leaders Kedah, with a game in hand.
Melaka, meanwhile, sit precariously in 10th position, just a point outside the relegation zone. Williams played down any talk of a possible upset of the Southern Tigers.
"JDT are a big team and they're the benchmark for other Malaysian clubs to emulate. They've had a tough schedule with six games in 18 days in April which is similar to our schedule earlier in the season," Williams said.
"But unlike us, JDT have a very big, good quality squad so they can rotate. We have to be very focused, and very disciplined. It's another good challenge for us."
It will be a third tough road trip in a row for Melaka. They lost 2-0 in the Malaysia FA Cup at Pahang on March 11, one week after falling 4-0 to Kedah in the MSL.
"We've had six away games, which makes it very difficult," Williams admitted. "Hopefully we can get a couple more wins to help us qualify for the Malaysia Cup.
"We've had our ups and downs, but we're progressing behind the scenes."
Both Melaka's two MSL victories came away from home. They defeated Kelantan 2-0 in Kota Bharu on Feb. 21 three days after they were 1-0 winners over Sarawak in Kuching.