FARIZAL GETS HIS BREAK

Keeper earns na­tional team call-up from Kim Swee

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RE­PORTS BY DEVIN­DER SINGH

devin­der@nst.com.my

FELDA United goal­keeper Farizal Harun is one of two un­capped play­ers called up by na­tional coach Ong Kim Swee for in­ter­na­tional matches against Philip­pines and North Korea later this month.

Fea­tur­ing five changes from the side which crashed out early in the AFF Cup last Novem­ber, Kim Swee only named two play­ers from Darul Ta’zim as the cool re­la­tions with the Su­per League cham­pi­ons ap­pear no closer to thaw­ing.

Darul Ta’zim have con­tin­ued to main­tain a cap on the num­ber of play­ers al­lowed to be called up by the na­tional team with only striker Ah­mad Hazwan Bakri and de­fender Fadhli Shas mak­ing the squad.

How­ever, three play­ers who left Darul Ta’zim dur­ing the close sea­son have been re­tained with Amri Yahyah, Safee Sali and Zaquan Adha Radzak all reg­u­lar fixtures at Malacca, PKNS and Perak re­spec­tively.

The un­capped Farizal, 31, is back with the na­tional team for the first time since Jan­uary 2008, when he was called up by then­na­tional coach B. Sathi­anathan for train­ing with­out ever mak­ing a se­nior in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance.

Malaysia play Philip­pines in a friendly in Manila on March 22 be­fore tak­ing on North Korea, at a venue to be deter­mined by the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion to­day, in an Asian Cup qual­i­fier on March 28.

“He has be­come more ma­tured,” said Sathi­anathan, who also made Farizal his No 1 when both were with Armed Forces in 2012 and 2013.

“I am happy for him and he should have no prob­lems han­dling in­ter­na­tional foot­ball. He is a safe pair of hands.”

To­gether with fel­low un­capped goal­keeper Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy of Perak, Farizal will be look­ing to dis­lodge Pa­hang’s Khairul Azhan Khalid as Kim Swee’s first-choice cus­to­dian.

Farizal’s call up came at the ex­pense of Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, who has been benched by Ke­lan­tan coach Za­hasmi Is­mail since a 2-0 de­feat to Se­lan­gor on Feb 25.

Nor did striker Nor­shahrul Id­lan Talaha make the cut af­ter his per­for­mance tailed off since scor­ing in Felda’s first two matches of the sea­son.

Be­sides Farizal, four others who were not part of the AFF Cup squad called up this time are Pa­hang de­fender Afif Amirud­din, Malacca full-back Khair Jones and mid­field­ers Nasir Basharudin and Akram Mahi­nan from Perak and Kedah re­spec­tively.

Akram’s call up is his first since his only cap in a 6-0 friendly de­feat to Oman in 2015 un­der Dol­lah Salleh while Afif has not played for Malaysia since the hu­mil­i­at­ing 10-0 de­feat to the United Arab Emi­rates in Septem­ber 2015, when he came off af­ter 37 min­utes at 7-0 down in the World Cup qual­i­fier.

SQUAD — Goal­keep­ers : Farizal Harun (Felda), Khairul Azhan Khalid (Pa­hang), Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy (Perak); De­fend­ers: Fadhli Shas (D Ta’ziM), Khairul Helmi Jo­hari, Rizal Ghaz­ali (both Kedah), Khair Jones (Malacca), Afif Amirud­din, Matthew Davies (both Pa­hang), Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Shahrom Kalam (both Perak), Ronny Harun (Sarawak); Mid­field­ers:

Hadin Az­man (Felda), Akram Mahi­nan, Bad­drol Bakhtiar, Syazwan Zainon (all Kedah), Nasir Basharudin, Shahrul Saad, Zaquan Adha Radzak (all Perak), S. Veenod (Se­lan­gor); For­wards: Ah­mad Hazwan Bakri (D Ta’zim), Amri Yahyah (Malacca), Safee Sali (PKNS).

Farizal Harun

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