PETALING JAYA: Kelantan’s young striker Shafiq Shaharuddin will be out to make up for lost time following his call-up to the national team for a friendly match against Fiji on Thursday.
Shafiq’s previous call-up for centralised training stint was for the Under-23 Singapore SEA Games in 2015 but a knee injury saw him dropped from the squad.
The lengthy recovery process saw him dropped in the pecking order at his club Johor Darul Ta’zim II (JDT) and the Batu Pahat-born player finally opted to revive his career by joining Kelantan this season.
Although the cash-strapped Kelantan are battling relegation in the Super League, Shafiq is one of the bright sparks of the season for the Red Warriors with four goals under his belt despite limited opportunities.
The 24-year-old said the call-up for the national team is a dream come true and a big step-up towards breaking into the starting XI.
“This is a start for me but I have to be realistic because this is only the first call-up and there are many established players ahead of me at the moment,” said Shafiq.
“My target is to just keep my head down, learn as much as possible and I hope my performance in training will impress coach Tan (Cheng Hoe).”
Shafiq added the onus is on him to follow his father, former national striker Shaharuddin Abdullah’s footsteps.
Shaharuddin was a stalwart with the national team for three decades from 1960 to 1980. The Penang ace also played in the 1972 Munich Olympics and was a member of the team who won the 1974 Asian Games bronze medal in Teheran.
“Of course I want to have a successful career like my father. I’ll be always compared to my father and I’ve to accept that and not bear any grudges because of it,” said Shafiq.
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