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Saturday March 24, 2007 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday July 5, 2013 MYT 1:21:37 AM
by rizal abdullah
JOHOR BARU: Striker Ahmad Fakri Saarani may be only 17 but Perak coach Steve Darby is ready to hand his protege his baptism of fire today.
Fakri will make his Super League debut against reigning champions Negri Sembilan at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh today as the leaders try to consolidate their spot at the top of the table.
Perak are on top only on goal difference after Kedah sneaked into second place with a 4-2 win over winless and bottom-placed Sarawak in Alor Star on Wednesday. Perak and Kedah have 25 points each.
“Fakri has been training with the senior team for the past two months. And I think the time is right for him to come into the picture. This is the right time to blood him although many may question my decision,” said Darby.
“It does not matter if we are playing at home. The fans may not like it if he makes mistakes but I have faith in the youngster.
“Fakri seems to handle pressure well and is confident of his game. He played for the national Under-19 team in a tournament in Brunei recently.
“I try to bring in the young players at the proper time. This is Fakri’s chance to prove his worth under my rotation system. I have been losing players to the national squads at all levels and we have to learn to cope without them.”
Fakri comes in as a replacement for S. Surendran, who is with the national team on a playing tour of Sri Lanka. However, utility player K. Nanthakumar did not go to Sri Lanka as his sister is getting married on Sunday and will be available for the Negri match.
Darby is also without three other key players – goalkeeper Nasril Nourdin and defenders Ahmad Azlan Zainal and S. Subramaniam – all of whom are with the pre-Olympic squad for the Asian qualifier against Hong Kong on March 28.
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