New Straits Times

Syafiq: Guilherme did his best during match


NATIONAL forward Syafiq Ahmad defended naturalise­d player Guilherme de Paula for his actions in Monday’s 3-1 win over Cambodia in the AFF Cup.

The forward was verbally abused by Malaysian fans during the Group B match at Bishan Stadium in Singapore.

The Brazilian was also in the spotlight when he threw a plastic bottle at the Malaysian bench after he was taken off in the second half.

“De Paula did his best in the match. Maybe it was not his time to score yet.

“He was frustrated as he had tried hard to help the national team in the match,” said Syafiq yesterday.

“We have many good forwards in the team, and I believe there is a healthy competitio­n for spots in the starting lineup.

“This is good as it will make the team stronger.

Syafiq said the best was yet to come from the national team in the AFF Cup.

Harimau Malaya’s performanc­e against Cambodia was slightly off colour, but Tan Cheng Hoe’s side still did enough to collect three points.

The forward said the team are still trying to find their A-game, no thanks to the short preparatio­n time leading up to the AFF Cup.

“It is a step-by-step process as we did not have warm-up matches before the AFF Cup.

“As we had not played as a team for a long time, we were struggling to find our rhythm against Cambodia,”

“I have to admit that we have a lot of catching up to do. We need to communicat­e better during matches.

“I played for 75 minutes, and I am happy with my performanc­e, although I did not score.”

The 26-year-old said although there are many newcomers in the team, everyone is integratin­g well.

“We had a long domestic season, and normally, players would want to take a break.

“However, my teammates are fighting hard for the national team.

“Baddrol Bakhtiar’s wife gave birth recently, while Aidil Zafuan Radzak’s wife is also pregnant, but both players still decided to play in the tournament.

“It shows their commitment to Harimau Malaya,” Syafiq added.

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