KUALA LUMPUR: Shahrel Fikri Mohd Fauzi realised that he has some big shoes to fill but he aims to give it his best shot.
The striker, who is earmarked to replace an injured Syafiq Ahmad, said the pressure is high to emulate his friend’s prowess in front of goal.
“Syafiq always gives his best in every game and I hope I can do him justice and make him proud. That is if I’m selected,” said the 24-year-old Perak lad.
“I must admit there is pressure being in the first team. The pressure’s even higher when you play for the country.”
Syafiq will be out for at least two weeks due to a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury after he was stretchered out in the 12th minute in their first-leg 7-1 win over Timor Leste during the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup preliminary qualification on Friday.
Coach Tan Cheng Hoe however is spoilt for choice as he has veteran striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Shahrel Fikri, Faisal Halim and Faiz Nasir to choose from.
Shahrel admitted that competition for places is tight as everyone in the 23-man squad are talented and eager to prove themselves.
“We now have a lot of top players. You can see from their performances in our last two wins.
“If I am given the chance to play, I will make sure we continue our winning streak. Even though we won 7-1, we have to stay focused and get the job done without any fuss.”
Meanwhile, Mohamadou Sumareh said Cheng Hoe’s philosophy has gone down well with the players.
“He wants us to keep the ball on the ground no matter how much pressure we are in. So, there is no reason for us to play long ball.
“And he wants us to keep things simple ... one touch, two touches, three touches, that’s it.
“Thanks to him, we are doing well now as you can see from our past results. We’ve improved a lot this year.”