Beware the Afiq threat

Beware the Afiq threat
Muhammad Afiq Azmi of Malaysia (L) fights for the ball with Tamer Salah of Palestine during the 2018 FIFA World Cup football qualifying match between Malaysia and Palestine in Kuala Lumpur
PHOTO: AFP

Selangor coach Mehmet Durakovic has tipped his striker Afiq Azmi to be Malaysia's next top striker.

And for good reasons too.

The 26-year-old wrote himself into local football folklore when he netted a nine-minute hat-trick - the fastest in Malaysian Super League (MSL) history - to help the Red Giants beat the LionsXII 4-0 in April.

With seven MSL goals to his name, he is the top Malaysian scorer in the league, outscoring more illustrious compatriots like Safee Sali, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Amri Yahyah.

If left to his own devices, the 1.92-metre tall Afiq could yet wreak havoc again on the LionsXII defence tonight at Jalan Besar Stadium.

"He is a very big boy for a Malaysian, and he is very hardworking and very professional," said Durakovic.

"After Paulo (Rangel) left, I gave him the chance and he made full use of it. I believe he can go on to bigger and better things."

However, Afiq and his team will have to wait for at least another season before being able to challenge for a league title that has eluded Selangor since their last win in 2010.

STARS LEAVE FOR MONEY

For Durakovic, the biggest reason is the lack of continuity as players leave for clubs who can pay more.

He added: "Selangor are a big team, but we cannot afford to lose players like how we lost our goalkeeper Farizal Marlias and winger S Kunalan to Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) and our top striker Paulo to Terengganu.

"The title contenders like JDT and Pahang have their best players together for a few years. We just have to be smarter and get some good young kids and hope they stay."

Despite their lost cause in the title race, Durakovic is plotting third-placed Selangor's first win over the LionsXII at Jalan Besar.

The 49-year-old three-time Malaysia Cup winner said: "Fandi Ahmad is a great coach and person, and he has done a fantastic job with the LionsXII who will be the future of Singapore football.

"But we will come here to attack and try to win. It will be good to get a point, but we will play to win."

davidlee@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on Aug 15, 2015.
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