Kedah switch helps Akram earn national call-up
AKRAM Mahinan’s move to Super League side Kedah from Premier League’s Johor this season has paid dividends as the 24-year-old hopes to resurrect his international career with the national team.
The Kulim-born is among the 23 players called up by national coach Ong Kim Swee for the friendly against the Philippines on March 22 in Manila.
Akram’s only international cap was in the 6-0 defeat to Oman in March, 2015. He was also in the training squad for the 2015 Singapore Sea Games but was dropped from the final team.
The central midfielder joined Darul Ta’zim in 2013 after his stint with Young Tigers B but was dropped to Johor for two seasons before returning to the Super League side in 2016.
However, he was dropped again to Johor during last season’s midseason transfer window.
“I am happy to be back with the national team. It is only my second call-up and I hope to prove myself here,” said Akram at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
“The competition for spots in the starting line-up was stiff at Darul Ta’zim and I did not play in many matches. I was transferred to Johor in mid-2016 but it is tough to get spotted when you are in the Premier League.
“My decision to join Kedah has turned out to be good. It has motivated me to play harder while my teammates have been helping me improve.”
“I hope to stamp my mark with the national team as it has always been my dream to play for the country.”
Except for players from Felda United and Darul Ta’zim, who are involved in the AFC Cup, the others reported for training at Wisma FAM yesterday.
Kedah defenders Khairul Helmi Johari and Rizal Ghazali did not join practice as they are carrying light injuries.
National assistant coach Brad Maloney conducted training yesterday in the absence of Kim Swee, who will only return from Malacca today.
“We are assessing players after the FA Cup matches last weekend. Some are carrying minor knocks. We expect everyone to get back to normal training routines in the next few days for the friendly,” said Maloney.