PETALING JAYA: The lure of playing in the AFC Champions League is the motivation Perak goalkeeper Hafizul Hakim (pic) needs to stop Kedah from lifting the FA Cup at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.
Winning the Cup will get the Seladang a slot in the second round of the playoff where they aim to make amends for being knocked out at the same stage after a 5-1 loss to K-League side Ulsan Hyundai on Feb 20.
“We won the Malaysia Cup last season and I’m very excited to feature in another final. The FA Cup offers us a chance to take another shot at the Champions League. It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the tournament,” said Hafizul.
“Kedah are a very good side and coached by one of the best in the region.
“And recently they beat us 4-2, so it’s certainly going to be a tough final for us.
“I think the winner will be decided by the team who make the least mistakes.”
Hafizul was the hero in the Malaysia Cup final against Terengganu on Oct 28 last year when he made two saves in the penalty shootout as Perak prevailed 4-1 after the match ended 3-3 after extra time.
However, in the FA Cup semi-final first leg, the 26-year-old was ridiculed in the 3-1 loss to Pahang on June 22.
He became the butt of jokes after letting in Herold Goulon’s free-kick which was taken from more than 50 metres away.
The Ipoh lad redeemed himself in the return leg when he kept a clean sheet and Perak went on to win 3-0 to advance to the final on a 4-3 aggregate.
Hafizul said every match is a lesson for him.
“I’m a normal human being and I can’t escape from making mistakes. It was hard to bounce back after that freak goal but I recovered thanks to the support from family and friends.
“In football, winning is a team effort. People hailed me as the hero during the Malaysia Cup final but I think I didn’t contribute much.
“I just made two saves in the shootout while the others were running for 120 minutes,” he added.
“These two things serve as a massive lesson for me ... football is unpredictable and always keep your chin up when the chips are down.”