Loyalty pays

You kept the faith: Zhafri Yahya, is hugged by KL coach Bojan Hodak after they beat JDT 2-0 to win the Malaysia Cup. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: It is common for a player to change clubs after a season or two in the Malaysian League.

But for Kuala Lumpur’s longest-serving player Zhafri Yahya, his loyalty with the team through thick and thin has paid off handsomely.

On his 142nd appearance, the 27-year-old Zhafri inspired KL to their first Malaysia Cup triumph in 32 years after stunning overwhelming favourites Johor Darul Ta’zim 2-0 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.

Zhafri converted one of the three chances of the night when he broke the deadlock in the 66th minute, tapping in a low cross from J. Partiban.

It earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.

The other goal came from team captain Paulo Josue, who doubled the lead in the 74th minute.

Zhafri described the victory as a dream come true and swiftly attributed his exploits to head coach Bojan Hodak for bringing out the best in him.

Zhafri was originally a midfielder but Hodak felt he was much better as a winger due to his pace and pinpoint passing.

“I’ve been with KL for six years and this is the biggest achievement I’ve had.

“I’m really grateful to the coach as he was the one who switched me to the position that I preferred,” he said.

“I missed the first two chances but when the third one came, I’m glad I did not let it go to waste. The first goal boosted the team’s confidence.

“As the underdogs, we had to focus throughout the 90 minutes in order not to lose to JDT.”

Zhafri said the team’s strong camaraderie was the key to the famous win.

“From the management, players, whether seniors or juniors... we’re really like a family. Not only do we take instructions from the coaches but the seniors also guide the juniors well.”

Zhafri has been with KL since he was loaned out from Selangor six seasons ago, which saw the City Boys go through a time of being promoted to and relegated from the Super League during that period.

After pulling off his biggest career win, Zhafri has only one plan for the future – to stick with KL.

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