Late arrival Luqman pumped up for good show in Asia Cup after Japan stint

PETALING JAYA: Youngster Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin is in tip-top condition ahead of the Harimau Muda’s campaign at the Under-23 Asia Cup in Doha, Qatar.

As the Malaysian Under-23 team prepare for battle in their Group D matches against Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Kuwait, Luqman is eager to get valuable playing minutes as he had been selected into head coach Juan Torres’ final squad.

The Harimau Muda will face Uzbekistan tomorrow followed by a clash with Vietnam on Saturday, and the final group stage match against Kuwait on April 23.

The 22-year-old, who is now on loan to Japanese third division side Yokohama SCC, is thankful to be included in the squad by the Spanish head coach.

“I feel so fortunate and thankful that I get to be with the Under-23 team again,” he said.

Luqman’s skills came in handy when he helped Malaysia finish as runners-up in the 2019 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-18 championship.

Although he joined Torres’ training camp late, Luqman said playing matches in Japan has helped him keep his fitness in good condition.

“I arrived late because I still had matches to play with Yokohama. But my match fitness isn’t affected because these matches were right before I started training with the team,” he said.

Having to fight for a spot to play up front with the likes of Haqimi Azim Rosli, T. Saravanan, and Aliff Izwan Yuslan, Luqman is staying in his lane and keeping his focus on himself.

“I can only do my best during training and matches, that is all I’m focusing on.

“I leave the rest of it to the head coach, the decision ultimately is his. As players, we can only do what the coach wants us to,” he said.

Luqman is currently on loan to Yokohama from Belgian club KV Kortrijk. He signed with Kortrijk in 2020.

Iceland’s Division Two club Njardvik then acquired Luqman on loan in 2023, where he played 12 matches and scored two goals before going to Japan for the 2024 season.

Despite low playing minutes overseas, Luqman is pumped up to help the Harimau Muda at least reach their target of the quarter-finals of the tournament, which also serves as the Olympic Games qualifiers where the top three teams will earn a ticket to Paris.

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