Alif out to make amends
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.