PETALING JAYA: Former Australian international Marshall Soper believes Perak youngster Muhd Firdaus Saiyadi will make the grade with A-League outfit Newcastle United Jets (NUJ).
The Perak FA (Pafa) Academy head coach said the 18-year-old state President’s Cupper is one of the new findings of the season.
“Firdaus is a gifted player and I have monitored his progress from school (SMK Anderson, Ipoh). I have worked with him for eight to nine months now and I believe he has the talent and will be going places,” said Soper on Friday.
Firdaus is the first from the state to be selected to undergo trials with the Australian club. He will be accompanied by Soper for the nine-day trials with the New South Wales club from Tuesday.
Soper said Pafa have taken the right approach in their junior development plans, having tied up with the Australian club.
“We are sending a message to every young player in Perak. Show us what you have and we will do the rest. Under this programme we will send two talented boys annually for training stints and trials with the club. It is not a reserve team ... but an A-League outfit.
“Firdaus will get to train with the top A-League players and there is England’s Emile Heskey in the squad, too,” said Soper.
A former Golden Boot winner with Penang in 1991, Soper’s task as the Academy head coach is to go to all corners of the state in search of talents.
“My vision is that Perak will no longer be looking for outside players in the M-League. Perak is for Perak and they will have their pool of talented players in the years to come. There are plans to set up 24 independent district academies all over the state,” he said.
A soft-spoken Firdaus said he is looking forward to the new challenge.
“I do not have the experience but I am confident of myself and of giving it a good shot. My aim is to play for Perak but if I can achieve bigger goals, I will pursue them,” said Firdaus, whose stint is fully sponsored by the Australian club.
Last month, Pafa and the Australian club signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will see an exchange programme between the two parties with players, coaches and management staff sharing experiences and ideas.
Firdaus is a member of the Perak President’s Cup squad who emerged champions in 2012. Last year, he led SMK Anderson to a runners-up finish in the 100Plus Ministry of Education Super Cup Under-17 Champion Schools tournament, where he was also named best player of the tournament.