PETALING JAYA: Five months without first-team action can be agonising for a footballer.
Perak striker Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi last started for the defending Malaysia Cup champions on April 27 when he featured in their 4-0 victory over former club PKNP at the Manjung Municipal Council Stadium.Since then, “Eky”, who is behind Ronaldo Silva and Careca in the pecking order, has came on as a substitute.
On Saturday, with Careca out with a hamstring injury, Shahrel made the most of his rare start and scored twice in quick succession (45th, 47th) in the 3-1 win over Pahang in their Malaysia Cup Group C encounter at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh.
Ronaldo opened accounts in the 31st minute while Lazarus Kaimbi scored for the visitors in the 86th minute.
“I was eager to prove myself and I’m glad coach Mehmet (Durakovic) gave me the chance against a tough opposition, ” he said.
“Hopefully the goals proved that I’m capable of playing in the first team.
“Many fans also wanted me to start and I’m happy to repay their support with those goals.”
Many thought the player was disillusioned with the management after he hid photos of himself playing for the club on Instagram when he reported for national duty in late August.
However, Shahrel dispelled the rumours by saying that he was angry at himself for not being able to fight for a place in the starting line-up.
“Among all the national players, I was one of the players who didn’t feature in the first 11, ” he said.
“By hiding those pictures, I wanted to move forward.
“To be honest, I don’t have a problem with the management or coaching staff. Anyway, I have a contract until next year.”
Meanwhile, Durakovic was full of praise for Shahrel’s man-of-the-match performance.
“It’s not easy for a local striker to get a spot in the first team because clubs prefer to play their imports.
“Shahrel is the future striker for us.
“He was magnificent against Pahang and I’m sure he will get more chances.”
Perak are second in the group with eight points while Pahang, who are already in the quarter-finals, remained top with 12 points.
The silver state just need a draw against Sabah at the Larkin Stadium on Wednesday to book their spot.