Alif out to make amends

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RE­DEMP­TION is fore­most on Afif Amirud­din’s mind as the de­fender seeks to re­ha­bil­i­tate his im­age fol­low­ing the worst ex­pe­ri­ence of his foot­ball ca­reer two years ago.

Pa­hang cen­tre-back Afif en­dured 90 min­utes of tor­ture as the United Arab Emi­rates in­flicted the most humiliating de­feat on Malaysia in a 10-0 win in a World Cup qual­i­fier in Septem­ber 2015.

Since that chas­ten­ing episode, which cost Dol­lah Salleh his job as na­tional coach, Afif has not been called up to the na­tional team un­til now.

As coach Ong Kim Swee pre­pares his side for Tues­day’s friendly against the Philip­pines in Manila, Afif is look­ing to put that ugly episode in Abu Dhabi, which was his ninth ap­pear­ance for Malaysia, be­hind him once and for all.

“This is a new chap­ter for me with the na­tional team af­ter what hap­pened the last time I was here. I hope I can re­pair my im­age with the fans and also help the team im­prove its rank­ing,” said Afif, 32, be­fore train­ing at the Pana­sonic Sports Com­plex in Shah Alam yesterday.

“It did cross my mind not to ever play for the na­tional team again be­cause that match was the worst ex­pe­ri­ence of my ca­reer. But in these last two years, I have worked hard to im­prove my level of play and I see this call-up as a re­ward for my ef­forts.

“At this late stage of my ca­reer, I look at this call up as a bonus. I hope if I can get to play against the Philip­pines, I can fully put that ex­pe­ri­ence to one side. I want to prove to ev­ery­one that if you fall once, you need to get back up and try again.”

Afif is not alone in the cur­rent squad to have played in the 10-0 ham­mer­ing with goal­keeper Khairul Azhan Khalid and for­wards Ah­mad Hazwan Bakri and Amri Yahyah hav­ing al­ready ex­or­cised their demons. Two oth­ers, Matthew Davies and Bad­drol Bakhtiar, were on the bench that day.

Fol­low­ing the end of the 2015 sea­son, Afif stayed loyal to Dol­lah and joined the coach at Premier League side Perlis in 2016 be­fore both moved to Pa­hang for this sea­son.

“Dol­lah has given me a lot of ad­vise and told me to con­tinue work­ing hard and not to give up,” said Afif, who be­gan his ca­reer with Ke­lan­tan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.