Name: Taufiq Muqminin Hossain
Age: 17 Team: National Football Academy Under-17
Position: Centre-back or striker
Favourite team: Manchester United
Favourite player: Carles Puyol (Barcelona). He's a no-nonsense defender, hard at all times and good in the air. He also has good sportsmanship. Plus, my father has the same hairstyle as him.
Asked to describe his game in one word, national Under-17 captain Taufiq Muqminin Hossain hesitated only briefly.
"Robust," said the ITE College East student.
A defender, Taufiq insisted it did not mean he was an overly physical player.
"As a defender, I must always be aggressive and robust in my challenges. I have to be sure of my tackles, because I can't afford to make a mistake," he said.
"I sometimes play as a striker too, and, even though my target then is scoring, I have the same mindset - I must get to the ball first."
Taufiq loves the physical side of the game. Those who know him say he gives 100 per cent, in anything he does.
When The New Paper interviewed him last week, he jumped at the chance to pose for a picture and executed a diving header.
Boy, did he go all out.
Wearing his game face, Taufiq launched himself forward as if he were heading clear an opponent's cross in the dying minutes of a cup final.
He didn't care about the muddy pitch.
With that kind of commitment, it was no surprise when Saswadimata Dasuki, coach of the National Football Academy U-17 team, nominated Taufiq for The New Paper's Dollah Kassim Award this year.
Said the former international: "He is the kind of player who always wants to be at the front to fight for his team.
"When we went on a training tour in Dubai in February, he even cried after we lost a friendly in the last minute. That's how much he wants to win."
It was an easy decision for Saswa when he handed Taufiq the captain's armband this year. He has not disappointed, playing a crucial role for the U-17s in their first year in the U-21 Prime League.
The team finished a creditable fifth in the 10-team competition.
Said Saswa: "Taufiq has good strength. He has shown this year that he can compete physically against players who are in their 20s.
"He also has good football intelligence. He's delivered even when I've used him as a striker. Off the pitch, he's got a very good character. If he doesn't have school commitments, he'll be the first one at training and the last to leave."
Taufiq's performances have not gone unnoticed.
He was one of only five players from the U-17 team to join the U-18s for the AFF U-19 Championship in September, and then the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers a month later. He also played against Thailand and North Korea in the AFC qualifiers.
Taufiq, who has never had the chance to train at an overseas club, said: "I've been waiting for this for so long. Now that I have the chance, I hope to win so I can test myself against the best."
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