Saturday, 19 November 2011

Malaysian goalkeeper praises hard working defenders in SEA Games

Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat has paid a glowing tribute to his defenders, calling them the team’s “pillars of strength”, as they prepare to face unheralded Myanmar in the men’s Under-23 football semi-final at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan today.

Khairul was gushing in his praise of centrebacks Mohd Muslim Ahmad and Mohd Fadhli Shas, rightback Mahalli Jasuli and leftback Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar in conceding only two goals in Malaysia’s group matches.

Malaysia drew with Singapore 0-0 before beating Cambodia 4-1, Thailand 2-1 and Indonesia 1-0 to top Group A with 10 points.

And Khairul was quick to acknowledge his defenders’ contribution.

“I can always count on them for cover. I’m sure they will be able to continue with their stout defending against Myanmar,” said Khairul yesterday.

The same four defenders and Khairul also featured in the national senior team who won the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship 11 months ago.

No wonder national Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee is counting on the same backline to keep Myanmar at bay and help Malaysia clinch a place in the final.

“I have watched tapes of the Myanmar side in action and they seem a highy motivated side.

They play as a unit and their fleet-footed forwards will cause us problems,” said Kim Swee, who will miss right-flanker Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, who is down with a hamstring injury.

The rest of the Malaysians are in high spirits and Kim Swee has chosen to continue his training sessions behind closed doors within the hotel grounds.

“The indoor sessions on the tennis courts have worked well. It’s important the boys train in a good environment,” said Kim Swee.

With his backline settled, Kim Swee is not expected to fiddle too much with his starting line-up.
Seventeen-year-old Mohd Nazmi Faiz will pull the strings in midfield once again.

He will be ably assisted by Mohd Irfan Fazail, skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar and Ahmad Fakri Saarani, who is set to replace the injured Wan Zaharul­nisam.

Izzaq Faris Ramlan and 18-year-old Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, who scored the winner against Indonesia, should start up front.

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