SEPANG: The bitter experience of Malaysia’s 2-3 loss on aggregate in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup final to Vietnam is still haunting defender Shahrul Saad as this year’s edition in Singapore kicks off today.
And the Johor Darul Ta’zim defender wants his teammates to give 200% commitment to make up for that disappointment by going all the way in the Lion City.
“I can’t forget the bitter experience of 2018, and I hope to do my best this time.
“However, this campaign is very challenging because all teams will be going all out and every match is like a final. So, we need 200% commitment to qualify for the next stage,” said Shahrul.
Despite feeling the loss of several players from 2018 who were not picked for the squad this time, the 28-year-old Shahrul – who also played in the 2016 edition – is confident that the spirit and hard work shown during the training sessions will help the current players and new faces to form a solid team for the competition.
On his condition after suffering a knee injury last May, Shahrul said he is now back to his best after undergoing rehabilitation with JDT and can’t wait to don the Harimau Malaya jersey in Singapore.
He also hoped that the Malaysian team will perform well and be able to collect three points in their opening Group B match against Cambodia tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Selangor youngster Muhd Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi said the opportunity to be listed in the final squad of 24 players to Singapore would definitely motivate him to showcase his talent if he is fielded by coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
“I hope to give a good performance for the team because this is the first big competition for me.
“God willing, I hope we can achieve a positive result,” he said.
Despite having a good chance of being paired with the experienced Baddrol Bakhtiar following two Kuala Lumpur midfielders Kenny Pallraj and Akram Mahinan being sidelined due to injury, Mukhairi refused to feel comfortable with the “vacancy” in the position and will always try to win the trust of the coach first.
The 20-year-old said Baddrol also often advised him and shared useful tips, especially the importance of playing as a team, at a recent training camp.
He is also confident that Baddrol can guide him along with the other players to navigate the midfield. — Bernama