PETALING JAYA: Two months after being snubbed, Rodney Akwensivie (pic) is still pinching himself after he was selected for the national team training squad.
The PKNS centreback is among the 26-player training squad to face Timor Leste in the first qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup in a two-legged fixture on June 7 and 11 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The 22-year-old player of Malaysian-Ghanaian heritage said he thought it was a prank.
“My teammate Nick (Nicholas Swirad) was the first person to inform me of my call-up. He said I deserved it but I was still sceptical,” said the former Sarawak player.
“I only realised it was true when I went into the Football Association of Malaysia website.”
It was certainly a piece of good news after he was not selected for the Airmarine Cup in March.
“Finally I get to train in the national team. This is the chance to prove myself.”
Akwensivie is one of four uncapped players called up. The others are his teammate Zarif Irfan Hashimuddin, Johor Darul Ta’zim La’Vere Corbin-Ong and Dominic Tan.
The rest of the players have featured for the Harimau Malaya in the 2018 Suzuki Cup and the Airmarine Cup.
Akwensivie is an integral figure in PKNS’ defence and has built a strong partnership with Kyrgyzstan international Tamirlan Kozubaev.
The young defender is also looking forward to training with fellow centreback Perak’s Shahrul Saad.
“When Shahrul is on the pitch, you can see his leadership qualities. I’ve always been impressed with his performances.
“He is always there to give his teammates a lift when the chips are down.”
Akwensivie revealed that PKNS and former national coach Datuk K. Rajagopal had encouraging words for him before he reported for training in Universiti Malaya yesterday.
“He told me that the national team is a step up from the Super League and that I should be on my toes at all times.
“He also said that the games would be faster and the players are more intelligent. I have to be prepared for all that and do my best for the country.
“I’ve waited for quite a while for this opportunity and I’m not going to blow it.”
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