PETALING JAYA: In a team filled with French brute, Filipino strength and Lebanese speed, the presence of a silky Samba man has made Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) one of the sides to watch in the Super League.
With French centreback Victor Nirennold standing as a fortress, French defensive midfielder Ousmane Fane doing the fetch-and-carry job in the middle, the Philippines international playmaker Mark Hartmann providing key passes and Lebanese winger Rabih Ataya churning assists week in-week out, Brazilian striker Gustavo Almeida has become the man dazzle the fans and finish off the moves.
After four games, the 23-year-old Gustavo, who last played for V-League club, Nam Dinh, has scored two goals for UiTM, the first university team to feature in the Super League.
The team are currently ninth with four points but have shown high grit and determination in all the matches, with Gustavo showing eagerness to get results for his club.
The team lost the first two games against Melaka (0-2) and JDT (1-2) but bounced back in the last two by holding reigning FA Cup champions Kedah 1-1 and beating Police 3-1.
For Gustavo, the two goals are good, but he wants more to ensure the team remain in the Super League.
To do so, he needs to be going out with guns blazing in all seven remaining games, if the league resumes in September. The Malaysian Football League (MFL) have proposed that the Super League resume on Sept 1 and the Premier League on Sept 2.
Only one round, instead of two, will be played, leaving only seven matches to decide the final Super League standings of 2020.
“Yes, I think the league should be back as soon as possible because running without it is very bad. Now that we know what the league plans to do, everyone has to be ready to play,” he said.
“So far, I am happy to be in UiTM because we are like family. As for the foreign players, we are all good friends, and we share good camaraderie. We have different roles in the team, but our aim is the same, which is to elevate the club.”
After months of training indoors, Gustavo said he is now out jogging and is glad to do that every day on his own, or with one or two of his foreign teammates around.
“I am pleased to be able to leave home because staying at home is tough. I am glad we can train outside because indoor workouts can be limited at times.
“When you are out, there is a little sense of freedom, and that is important for a footballer.
“When training resumes, I will help my teammates in the best way possible by improving my gameplay.”