Ping-sized Nazmi Faiz Mansor may hold the key to Malaysia’s Olympic qualifying fortunes when he is handed the responsibility to guide the team to victory against Bahrain at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
Nazmi was the biggest revelation in Malaysia’s Sea Games triumph and the 17-year-old schoolboy from Lembah Keramat in Kuala Lumpur has earned rave reviews for his composure and vision for someone so young.
Olympic coach Ong Kim Swee plans a new role for Nazmi against Bahrain after employing the midfielder as cover for the defence at the Sea Games.
Injury to Irfan Fazail and the ineligibility of Baddrol Bakhtiar means the team lack a creative spark, a void which Nazmi could fill.
“We have to be more offensive as we need to win this game. I am prepared to play Nazmi in a more attacking role since he has a good passing range and is able to deliver balls into the opposition area.
“We need the midfield to focus more on attack and Nazmi could play as a back-up striker,” said Kim Swee yesterday.
Nazmi was fast-tracked into the Sea Games squad after being recalled from the Malaysian youth side playing in the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifier in Vietnam.
He has impressed many with his ability on the ball which Kim Swee said he has not seen since the time of Azizol Abu Haniffa.
Even national coach K. Rajagobal has been keeping tabs on the teenager and is prepared to hand him a full international debut.
“Yes, I have been watching him and I’m impressed with his vision.
“Who knows, I could just play him in our next international, I’ve done crazy things before,” said Rajagobal when met at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
So what does little Nazmi think of all this attention on him?
“I just want to play to my best and help my team win.
“I feel comfortable playing with anyone on the team and I don’t have any problems adapting.
“I don’t want to stop with just winning the Sea Games gold. I want to achieve more success,” said Nazmi, who missed his SPM examinations to play at the Sea Games.