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Tuesday July 17, 2012
PETALING JAYA: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat hopes to raise the bar in his football career.
The 23-year-old Kelantan goalkeeper is game for more challenges after having recorded a string of successes to his name since making his international debut at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Khairul, fondly known as “Apek” by his friends, made heads turn when he got his break after two senior goalkeepers were injured at the Asiad. Khairul was thrown into first-team action following injuries to regulars Mohd Sharbinee Allawee and Mohd Farizal Marlias. Since then, it has been Khairul’s show all the way.
“I worked hard for it ... and it feels good to be No. 1. Of course the pressure is there but I’ve been able to overcome it, so far,” he said at a press conference after 100Plus named him as their new Brand Ambassador yesterday.
Khairul joins an exclusive band of star athletes, which includes badminton ace Datuk Lee Chong Wei, diver Pandelela Rinong and football’s Mohd Safee Sali.
Khairul signed a two-year deal which will see him appearing in 100PLUS advertisements and promotions throughout the country. Khairul said he was honoured by the recognition given to him and that it would inspire him to strive for bigger goals.
“There is the Malaysia Cup, the AFC Cup and the Suzuki Cup competitions coming up next. I will take it one at a time.
“What is more important is for us to gradually raise the bar at international level,” said a confident Khairul. who wants to help the national team retain the Suzuki Cup, which Malaysia host in November.
“This tournament is of sentimental value with all our traditional rivals Singapore and Indonesia in the same group as us. It will be a great contest and we have got a point to prove to our rivals,” said Khairul.
His biggest challenge was in 2010 when he juggled between three teams – playing first choice goalkeeper for Kelantan, the national Under-23 team and the senior squad - all at the same time. It was a great year for Khairul, who was part of the Kelantan’s historic Malaysia Cup winning team, and he bagged the ‘Best Young Player’ and ‘Best Goalkeeper’ accolades at the National Football Awards,
The same year, the national team went on to win the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Federation (AFF) championship for the first time since 1996. The following year, Khairul was part of the national team who retained the SEA Games gold medal at the Jakarta SEA Games.
All in all, Khairul has helped Kelantan win five titles since 2010, including the double this year - FA Cup and Super League titles.
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