Sanba sings praises of Gopi

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Former national player K. Sanbagamaran believes Pahang winger R. Gopinathan is one of the best local players at the moment.

Gopinathan has been in impressive form this season for Pahang, helping the Elephants to win the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup and the Malaysian FA Cup, and finish third in the Super League standings behind JDT and Selangor.

Last year, the left winger played a key role en route to his side lifting their first Malaysia Cup since 1992 as they defeated Kelantan 1-0 in the final at the Shah Alam Stadium.

"I think alongside Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Amri Yahyah, Gopinathan is the most talented local player right now," said the former Selangor captain.

"He is only 24 this year, but he is the fastest and most skilful player in Malaysia, and he has been very consistent for Pahang in the past two years."

However, despite performing well for Pahang, Gopi has so far played sporadically for the Malaysia national team, a situation that puzzled the retired midfielder.

"Given his talent, I am very surprised that he has failed to fully break into the national team.

"I hope Gopi will get the chance [to cement his spot in the national team] soon because it will only benefit him and the Harimau Malaya."

When FFT pointed out that Gopi was once dropped by former national head coach K. Rajagopal from the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 squad following a series of disappointing performances for the national side, Sanbagamaran defended the Kuantan-born player.

"We cannot expect him to shine immediately every time he gets called up; he needs the time and international experience to build up his confidence.

"It is the same situation with Piya [Kelantan captain Badhri Radzi], who has only been given very few playing opportunities to really show what he is capable of but is expected to carry the national team [whenever he does play].

"In two years' time, I believe Gopi will gain enough international exposure to rise to another level and help the national team."

(Photo Credit: www.asiana.my)