Saturday October 27, 2012
Stiff fight in store, Khairul welcomes Farizal challenge
By K. Rajan
PETALING JAYA: National goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat prefers to focus on his own performance rather than talk about the threat posed by Perak custodian Mohd Farizal Marlias ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup competition next month
The 23-year-old Khairul, who played a key role in Kelantan’s treble success this season, also refused to comment on Farizal, saying “I am only focused on my performance and the team’s”.
“I don’t want to comment on other players. My focus at the moment is only on myself,” said Khairul.
“The M-League has ended and I think I did well because Kelantan won the Malaysia Cup, FA Cup and the Super League. I can now finally give my 100% to the national team.
“We have a number of friendlies lined up before we start our AFF Suzuki campaign.
The national team will play friendlies against Vietnam (Nov 3), Thailand (Nov 7) and Hong Kong (Nov 14) before starting their campaign in Group B against Singapore on Nov 25. Farizal, who won the 2009 SEA Games gold medal as the team’s second goalkeeper, has slowly been staking a claim for the job between the posts during Khairul’s absence.
Farizal, who just joined Perak from Negri Sembilan, was immense in the 3-0 win over Hong Kong in a friendly at the Mongkok Stadium last week. He also won rave reviews from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger when Malaysia lost 2-1 last July.
Khairul, who won the 2011 SEA Games gold medal, is known for his calmness in one-on-one situations and penalty shootouts.
Khairul is also expected to face stiff competition from Selangor’s Norazlan Razali, who has been called up by national coach Datuk K. Rajagopal.
And Khairul welcomes the competition because “it will strengthen the team”. “It’s good to have competition in the team as it would only make us stronger,” said Khairul, who made his name after helping Malaysia win the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010.
“All three of us (including Norazlan and Farizal) have our own strengths and it’s up to the coach to evaluate us and make his pick.