PETALING JAYA: Veteran Melaka goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat is happy to give coach Zainal Abidin Hassan sleepless nights in the goalkeeping department.
Khairul, fondly known as Apek, has years of experience as the national custodian but there’s no assurance that he will get a starting role. He is aware that Norazlan Razali and Ahmad Solehin Mamat are quality keepers capable of making the first eleven any time.
And hence the selection headache for Zainal and the need for the three goalkeepers to be on their toes all the time
For Khairul, the competition to get into the starting line-up is good for the team.
“Indeed, it is a challenge for me, but a good one. It is good for the three of us, and also the team, ” said the 31-year-old.
“For the coach, it is a pleasant headache to have. In training, we are focused but off it, we are mates.
“So the competition has not affected us one bit.
“We are all training hard to ensure we make a good impression in the Super League.”
Khairul was one of the few players retained by Melaka as the Mousedeer have signed several players to bolster their squad for the new season.
Last season, the team had their best finish in the Super League – a sixth placing with 33 points.
Melaka, who have signed up Curran Ferns, Romel Morales (Colombia), Uche Agba (Nigeria), Sony Norde(Haiti), Ahmad Syamim Yahya, Mohd Ferris Danial Mat Nasir, and Norazlan, are aiming to finish in the top five this season and Khairul believes that they can do it.
However, there is some tinkering to do before the season opener against UiTM at the UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam on Feb 29.
“Recently, we played some friendly matches in Bandung and capped our trip by playing Persib Bandung, a top club in Indonesia.
“Playing in front of their fervent fans was a good experience. During our trip there, we realise that our understanding needs to be better. We have many new players so this aspect can be improved.
“The next three weeks will be crucial. Once we can click, our game will flow well, ” said Khairul.
With the departure of talismanic player Mohd Shukor Adan to Kuala Lumpur, Khairul could be playing behind a new centreback partnership, but he believes that it would not be a problem.
Co-captain Razman Roslan is still there to guide the players and with his experience, we should be able to compensate for the loss of Shukor.
“Do not forget, Jang (Suk-won) is still with us too. So, the understanding in defence would not be profoundly affected. The likes of Annas (Rahmat) will surely learn from these two.
“I am certainly looking forward to the new season. The club have not set any target yet as we are still in pre-season, but as players, we want to do better than last season.”
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