Goal-shy Mat Yo still a threat


PETALING JAYA: Write Norshahrul Idlan Talaha off at your peril.

The nippy, agile, clinical and creative striker is bent on getting his act right – and end his international goal drought – when the Harimau Malaya take on Vietnam in the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final first-leg match at the Shah Alam Stadium tomorrow.

The country’s three-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) from 2010-2012 is raring to break the duck after firing blanks thus far in the biennial competition.

National coach Dollah Salleh is optimistic that the 28-year-old, who has signed up with Armed Forces for the new Super League season, will be on target following his impeccable workrate up front in the group matches.

Norshahrul, who last scored in the 1-1 draw against Bahrain in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualification round in October 2013, is oozing confidence, saying “I’m getting closer to top form”.

“I’ve been playing regularly with the national team now and I’m happy that the coach has confidence on me. But I’m disappointed because I have yet to get my name on the score sheet,” said Norshahrul, a key player when Malaysia won the AFF tournament in 2010.

“I have my touches back ... I’m pretty sure I’ll score soon for the team in the AFF. I just need to be a little more patient.”

Norshahrul showed glimpses of his talent in the national team’s 3-1 loss to Vietnam in a warm-up match in Hanoi on Nov 16. 

He was the livewire of the team upfront in the first half of the match, providing assist to Mohd Amri Yahyah’s goal. But Malaysia crumbled in the second half after being reduced to 10-man following centreback Muslim Ahmad’s sending-off.

Norshahrul said he’s focused on scoring against the Red Jerseys, as Vietnam are known, and “I will make my chances count this time around”.

“I was unlucky not to score against Vietnam then ... but that was a friendly. We need to make sure we convert our chances this time,” said Norshahrul.

“We are aware of Vietnam’s strengths and weaknesses after playing against them. It will be an interesting match ... we will be going for an early kill.”
   

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