GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s S. Kumaahran is fighting to overcome two major obstacles before the new Super League season begins on Saturday.
The national Under-22 striker is battling against time to recover from an ankle injury suffered in training last week. And the 20-year-old also needs to adapt fast to his new role as the playmaker for Penang.
Kumaahran suffered his latest injury after twisting his right ankle in training. He sat out the islanders’ 1-0 loss to Cambodian top-flight team Nagaworld FC in a friendly at the City Stadium on Friday.
Although the former Harimau Muda player is expected to feature in the opening game against Selangor at the Selayang Stadium, he is feeling wary after just recovering from a long-term injury on the same ankle.
Kumaahran had been sidelined since injuring his ankle during the Super League match against Police on Sept 10. The injury forced him to miss the tail-end of Penang’s season.
He was not considered for selection for the national Under-22 and senior team duties, including for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November, due to the injury.
“It took me four months to get back into action after I was tackled in the Police game. It was painful to watch from the stands as I was unable to help Penang or Malaysia during the period,” said Kumaahran.
“I was worried after this latest setback, but luckily the injury is not too bad. I hope I will not have more trouble with the ankle, and can play an important role for Penang in the new season.”
Kumaahran admitted he is still learning to cope with his new responsibilities in the Penang engine room. The Seberang Perai-born player is utilised by new Penang coach Ashley Westwood as a playmaker in training and friendlies.
Kumaahran was deployed either as a winger or a back-up striker by previous Penang coaches Jacksen Tiago and Nenad Bacina, and during his stints with the Harimau Muda and national Under-22 squads.
He said: “It has been four years since I played in the centre of midfield. I was a playmaker for my school (Mutiara Impian Sports School), but I’m more comfortable on the wings or as a forward.
“It was difficult at first when Ashley asked me to try out this position in training. I’m getting the hang of it now, but I am still learning and need more time to become efficient in this role.”
Last year Argentine Mathias Cordoba was the team’s schemer, but his contract was not renewed at the end of season.
Surprisingly, the Panthers did not seek a like-for-like foreign replacement for Cordoba. Their current imports are centrebacks Reinaldo Lobo (Brazil) and Andrew Russell (Hong Kong), defensive midfielder Diogo Ferreira (Australia) and striker Nigel Dabinyaba (Papua New Guinea).
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