Syahmi to fight Matthew for starting XI spot

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 28 Aug 2019

Practice makes perfect: Syahmi Safari at the national team’s training session at the Cheras Football Stadium yesterday. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Rightback Syahmi Safari is ready to fight tooth and nail with Matthew Davies to get back his starting spot in Malaysia’s football team.

The 21-year-old Syahmi, one of the bright sparks in Malaysia’s run to second place in the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, was picked by Tan Cheng Hoe for the national squad following Matthew’s injury.

But Syahmi’s progress was hampered by several niggling injuries this year and it saw a fully recovered Matthew reclaiming the rightback berth.

Matthew, the Pahang Super League team’s skipper, went on to play a pivotal role in Malaysia’s 13-2 aggregate win over Timor Leste in the first round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying round.

Malaysia play the second round of the qualifiers against Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Sept 5.

To prepare for the match, the national team will play a friendly match against Jordan at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil this Friday.

Syahmi and Matthew are both picked for the friendly leaving the two to fight it out to make Cheng Hoe’s starting line-up for the friendly.

“There will be a healthy competition between Matthew and me. He played in the last call-up in the first round of the World Cup qualifiers against Timor Leste which I missed due to injuries,” said Syahmi at the national team’s training in the Cheras Football Stadium yesterday.

“Obviously Matthew is more experienced than me and it might give him the advantage but I’m fully fit now and I think I’m ready to play if coach Tan (Cheng Hoe) picks me.”

Syahmi, who is known for his overlapping runs and thunderous shots outside the box, managed to make 22 appearances and scored three goals while Matthew has made 28 appearances and also scored three goals in the M-League this season and adept at playing in defence and attack.

Perth-born Matthew had been a regular with Pahang and one of the most consistent performers in the M-League this season while Syahmi had been alternating playing on the right wing and rightback with Selangor.
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Syahmi Safari


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