Akram hopes to earn a place in starting XI


PETALING JAYA: Kedah midfielder Akram Mahinan hopes to get a chance to redeem himself when Malaysia take on Hong Kong in their 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers Group B match on Oct 10.

In their first match against Hong Kong in Melaka on Sept 5, Akram came on as a substitute and ended up giving away a penalty in stoppage time at the Hang Jebat Stadium. Luckily for him, goalkeeper Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy saved the penalty and the teams drew 1-1.

“We should have beaten Hong Kong in Melaka last month, but we wasted our chances and ended up dropping points. We were lucky to escape with a draw after I gave away the penalty,” said the versatile 24-year-old midfielder yesterday.

“The penalty call was a harsh one. The Hong Kong player threw himself to the ground and managed to trick the referee to award the penalty. These things happen in football and it was a lesson for us.

“We now what they are capable of and we will be much more careful against them. As for me, I hope coach (Eduardo) Vingada will include me in the starting XI.”

Akram and 24 other national players will report for centralised training at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Wednesday to prepare for the Hong Kong match.

Winless Malaysia are last in the four-team group with just a point after two matches.

Lebanon lead the group with the maximum six points while Hong Kong are second with two points from three matches. North Korea, with one point after one match, are third on better goal difference.

Akram said that the team were still adapting to Portuguese coach Vingada’s tactics.

He believes that once “we are all on the same page, we will deliver the results”.

“We have to remember that the coach has only been in charge for four matches and is still trying out players,” said Akram.

“We are getting closer to getting the right formula for the team.

“I hope the match against Hong Kong will be the turning point in our campaign.”

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