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M’sia no pushovers
Published on: Thursday, August 15, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: After scoring two goals against Australia, wily national striker Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin (pic) vows to help Malaysia win against Thailand in the last match of Group B at the 2019 U-18 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship on Thursday.

The determination was not only to ensure that Malaysia, as defending champions, advanced to the semi-finals, but a win over the five-time champions was very meaningful to soothe the disappointment of losing 2-4 to the same team at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championship last year.

More painfully, Luqman Hakim, 17, who scored one goal for the junior squad, was shown the red card by referee Omar Mohamed Ahmad Hassan Alali at the match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, in September.

As such, the Kota Bharu, Kelantan-born player pledged to prove the actual capability of the national squad at the action at the Thang Long Stadium, Ho Chi Minh, at 3.30pm local time (4.30pm Malaysian time).

“My mission against Thailand is to avenge the 4-2 loss of the team last year...furthermore, I was shown the red card in the match. As such, the team and I this time want to prove that Malaysia is no push over.”

After four matches, Malaysia now occupied the top spot in Group B, sharing nine points with Australia in second place followed by Vietnam third while Thailand was last with two points.

The squad, under temporary coach, Brad Maloney began its championship campaign in Vietnam on the wrong foot after losing 0-1 to the host before recovering to secure three wins against Singapore 3-1, Cambodia (3-0) and successfully subduing Australia 3-0, Tuesday.

Behind the excellent performance demonstrated at the Thanh Long Stadium in the Group B action, Luqman Hakim, a product of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP), believed his parents’ advise which he adhered to each time before a match were the main factors that drove him on the pitch.

“They (parents) always spur me on and often remind me to give my best in every match. Most importantly, they remind me that I should not neglect my prayers especially in praying for the success of the team.

“I also recite the three Qul (verses of the Quran) before stepping on the field. Indeed, these were what were taught by my parents which I always hang on to and practice until today,” said Luqman Hakim who had scored three goals from four matches to date.

At the same time, Luqman Hakim, who emerged as the most prolific scorer at the 2018 U-16 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) with five goals, however, did not want to be overly focused on repeating the achievement at the current edition.

He said that priority should be on ensuring the team’s victory to defend the championship they won at the previous edition.

Malaysia would complete the group competition when it face Thailand Thursday and a victory over the White Elephant squad would brighten its chance of advancing to the semi-finals as champions of Group B. – Bernama



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