PETALING JAYA: Leftback Nazirul Naim Che Hashim is not going to let go of his spot in the national team without a fight.
The 22-year-old earned his first cap against Saudi Arabia in the 2018 World Cup qualifying Asian Zone Group A match at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sept 8. The match was abandoned with Malaysia trailing 2-1 in the 88th minute due to crowd trouble.
But the return of regular first choice Zubir Azmi from a hip injury has intensified the fight for the leftback spot.
Harimau Muda B player Nazirul said that he’s looking forward to convincing national team interim coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee that he’s up for the job in the friendly against Laos in Thailand on Thursday.
After the friendly, bottom-placed Malaysia will take on Timor Leste in the World Cup qualifier in Dili on Oct 13.
“I need to step up my efforts as Zubir is injury-free and back in the team ... he’s definitely more experienced than me, but I think I can match him in other aspects,” said Nazirul.
“Zubir is very solid with his defending ... but I offer more options in terms of offense as I like to bomb forward to help the attack.
“It’s up to the coach who he picks based on his plans, but I’ll give 100% in training to retain my place.”
The Perak local also hopes that his trademark long-range freekicks will give him an edge over Zubir.
“My freekicks are my trump card ... an extra attribute of my game. Captain Safiq Rahim is the first choice freekick taker, but his kicks are usually from the edge of the box,” said Nazirul, who was signed for a short stint by J-League Third Division side FC Ryukyu in 2013.