PETALING JAYA: While 2020 has been a year to forget for most people, it has been an eventful one for Police’s Turkmenistan international centreback Shohrat Soyunov.
For 10 years, the 28-year-old had only played in his home country for clubs like HTTU (now known as Yedigen), Altyn Asyr and Ahal, but decided to expand his horizons this year by joining Malaysian Super League club Police.
And it has been a daunting challenge with the club, who were deducted three points for not paying the salary arrears as instructed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Police are currently bottom of the 12-team Super League with minus-two points.
They drew once but lost three matches. To further compound matters, the league was suspended in March 16 and Soyunov couldn’t return to his family in Turkmenistan during the pandemic period.
Instead of ruing these challenges, he is relishing his time in Malaysia.
“I am enjoying this opportunity to be part of the Malaysia Super League playing for Police. It is also a team based in Kuala Lumpur city. As such, it is a perfect location for me to start football work in a new country with new cultures and language, ” said the 1.84m tall player.
“I have a good relationship with the local Police players, regardless of their rank or status (pro civilians or officers). Some of them are my friends. I even invite them to my house and cook dinner for them!
“Coach Ishak (Kunju) is a friendly coach and very open with his players. I feel I can discuss almost anything with him. I just need to improve my English and I’m learning with the help of my countryman and teammate, Serdar Geldiyev.”
Soyunov even said he would encourage his compatriots to pursue their professional football in Malaysia.
“I have already recommended the Super and Premier Leagues to our national team players.
“It is a good competitive league, and expectations for foreign players are also high, which is a great challenge to any professional.”
The bigger challenge for him will be to keep his team up in the Super League when the league resumes on Aug 26.
“I really hope we can stay in the Super League. In fact, as the season is shorter now, we actually stand a better fighting chance than before to achieve this feat.
“We are already handicapped by having only a third of players who are full professionals while the other 66% are police officers. We are also short by three foreign players as only Serdar and I remain in the squad.
“As such, I cannot yet be happy with my performance. Only league points will make a player happy.”
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