Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Raja on Shakir

Four of the nation's brightest footballing talents are on the cover of the September issue of footy mag, Stadium. From left (clockwise) striker Ahmad Shakir Ali, goalkeeper Muhammad Zamir Selamat, defender Mohd Aidil Zafuan and his twin, attacker Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak.

Shakir who shone brightly for Kedah for a fleeting moment before he was called up for the Harimau Muda squad and now the Under-23 team, provided the solitary goal from the three friendlies in the Middle East.

National coach K. Rajagobal has waxed lyrical over Shakir's attacking qualities. In an interview with New Straits Times' Ajitpal Singh, Rajagobal said: "Shakir has everything a perfect striker needs," said Rajagobal.

"He's fast, he's technically gifted and he's excellent on the ball. Shakir is a young lad and if he concentrates on his football, he will go far."

So impressed was Rajagobal with the 19-year-old Shakir that the coach included him in the National Under-23 squad in April.

Though Shakir, who scored 17 goals for Premier League side Young Tigers this season, has yet to start in an international match (featuring only as a substitute in recent friendlies), the young striker has impressed many with his strong presence on the field when given the opportunity.

Shakir was a substitute when the National Under-23 team took on Indonesia, Manchester United and Kenya in recent friendly matches and he provided the extra bite up front, though he did not score.

But Shakir's wait for his first international goal ended on Monday when he scored in Malaysia's 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

"Shakir is a fearless striker. Despite his age, he is not afraid to take on experience defenders. I remember him giving Manchester United defenders a tough time in July," said Rajagobal.

"He is a very exciting player to watch. I believe, in time, he will be a great player." Shakir, if he continues with his performance, will likely feature in the Sea Games in Laos.

The other strikers in the training squad are Zaquan Adha Radzak, Norsharul Izlan Talaha, Farderin Kadir and Ahmad Fakri Shaarani.

Meanwhile, Rajagobal believes his Under-23 squad will reach their full potential as a unit in three years.

"They are improving with every match but it will take another three years before they make it big.

"My players are young and they need the exposure and experience. Of course the immediate target for them will be the Laos Sea Games," he said.

Rajagobal added that he will only set a target for the Sea Games after the draw is released in mid-October.


pakmat said...

..LC..this oldster is always of the opinion that our country has talent..abound,I'm sure..but we are in the boondocks not for the lack of it..just that along the way we have lost the ability to recognise and nurture those talents..instead, the very structure of our sports bodies corrupts them..changing them into egoistical and moneygrabbing beings..exposure does not make them into mature players..too often exposure makes mercenaries out of them..take your Shakir, for instance..give him a few more years..and let us see what happens..but deep in my heart, (I'm sure in every sports loving Malaysian hearts)lies a faint hope..that maybe the tide is about to be stemmed..that the tide is, indeed, turning...lies a prayer, too..that I may live to see the day..

rizal hashim said...

Haiya AFAH, yes, I've seen virtually all players who were earmarked for a bright future be reduced to mediocrity due to the environs...sharp observation with a tinge of nostalgia at the end of it but I must say in sports and football especially, stemming the tide is an exercise in futility. Your prayers, mine as well, may never be answered!

Hakim Amir said...

why do all the young footballers these days must have the same hairstyle??

KakiBola said...

don't keep him here in the malaysian league. shakir himself, must have the ambition to ply his trade abroad. malaysian league is no football (remember the quote by former national coach). he doesn't have to be with the european clubs. for him to ply his trade in the singapore league, indonesian league, australian league, or even in the indian league, is a good platform for him to improve and develope his game.
don't wait till he is spoiled by the glamorous world of malaysian football. wallahu'alam