KUALA LUMPUR: Abdul Halim Saari wants to play a pivotal role in the national team after getting his first two caps in the Airmarine Cup.
He impressed as a defensive midfielder when he set up Faiz Nasir’s goal with a pinpoint diagonal pass in the team’s 2-1 win over Afghanistan at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.
In an earlier game against Singapore on Wednesday, where Malaysia lost 0-1, Abdul Halim came on as a substitute in the second half and made an immediate impact.
“I was excited to get my first cap, but there was a bittersweet feeling too. We lost to our rivals Singapore but restored some pride against Afghanistan. Overall, I was excited with the opportunity given to me,” said Abdul Halim.
“When coach Tan (Cheng Hoe) was coaching Kedah, he gave me my professional debut and now he has given me the opportunity to play with the national team.
“I hope to get more call-ups. I always do my best under him. I aim to build on this momentum.”
With Abdul Halim on board, Cheng Hoe has a wealth of options as there are also Akram Mahinan, D. Kenny Pallraj, Syamer Kutty Abba and Afiq Fazail playing in midfield.
Akram, who is seen as the team’s first choice for the position, was glad to see his hometown friend Abdul Halim doing well.
”We played together in Kulim a lot since young. We know each other very well, and it was easy to play alongside him (Abdul Halim),” said Akram.
“It’s good to see options in the middle of the park. There is no such thing as the first choice because I’ve to work hard with the other talented players in the squad.
“In the AFF Suzuki Cup, I played with Syamer, and this time, I played with Abdul Halim. I have to be adaptable to help the team.”