Quak and Nazrul - who's the right option?

Quak and Nazrul - who's the right option?
Quak (right), 23, was substituted by coach Fandi Ahmad on just 32 minutes after a lacklustre start in midfield, much to the player's bewilderment and disappointment.

SINGAPORE - Almost three weeks on, LionsXII winger Gabriel Quak is still haunted by the match against Perak.

The 23-year-old was substituted by coach Fandi Ahmad on just 32 minutes after a lacklustre start in midfield, much to the player's bewilderment and disappointment.

Quak told The New Paper that he was downcast after that game, which the LionsXII won 1-0.

"It definitely affected my confidence, but I don't blame coach Fandi," Quak said before training yesterday.

"That was a wake-up call for me. Now, I just have to get over it and give of my best for the games ahead."

Quak, who has featured mostly off the bench this season, knows that his preferred right-wing position is still up for grabs.

Judging from the LionsXII's starting 11 over the past few months, Faris Ramli looks to have made the left side his own - which leaves Quak and Nazrul Nazari challenging for the opposite flank.

"From the start, I knew competition for the two wing positions would be tough," said Quak, whose only goal this year came in the FA Cup against DRB-Hicom.

"It's all about consistency, and I'll admit, so far Faris and Nazrul have shown more of that."

Fandi insisted that he has not decided who will start on the right flank tonight against Sime Darby FC.

The 51-year-old coach also did not rule out versatile midfielder Hafiz Abu Sujad, who can be deployed on the left, allowing Faris to switch to the right.

"I'm looking for players who show consistency and guts," said Fandi, when asked what his selection criterion was for the right-wing role.

DIFFERENT QUALITIES

"Gabriel and Nazrul both offer different qualities. Nazrul has pace, work-rate and is a team player.

"Gabriel has got something special, he can do the unpredictable, but he hasn't shown much so far. He has to become and play like a man now, otherwise he'll be a wasted talent."

Having just recovered from an ankle injury suffered during the Sime Darby game last week, Nazrul is favourite between the two to start tonight.

But the speedy 23-year-old, who has scored once this season, is taking nothing for granted.

"Competition is so tough this year, so whoever gets to play must perform," he said.

"But even then it's hard to say, because Gabriel and I are different players.

"It will be up to the coach and what type of player he wants during the game."

This article was published on April 12 in The New Paper.

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