Unlikely standout Shahrul eyeing transition into holding role

Felda United defender Shahrul Saad is getting used his holding midfield role, so much so he wants to make the position his…

The former Harimau Muda star is finally making waves in the M-League after joining Felda at the start of this year’s Malaysia Super League (MSL). He did not feature much at the beginning but is now a regular.

Coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim converted the centre-back into a defensive midfielder and the 22-year-old has established himself in the starting 11, pushing veteran Shukor Adan into defence permanently.

Prior to his break, Shukor rotated between partnering Zah Raham Krangar in midfield and playing in the heart of defence. Shahrul feels Shukor is perfect role model for him to emulate.

“He gives me a lot of tips and having performed for Malaysia and a host of MSL clubs, he has bags of experience to share too,” Shahrul said.

“I found it a bit difficult to settle in at the start but I got used to it. I still feel I have not adapted fully but I’m learning. The style of play is different compared to playing in defence … I have to both mark players and attack the opponent’s goal.

“I think I actually like playing in midfield. I just need to get used to it more. The coaches tell me I’ve put in a more defensive work from midfield, and need to polish the attacking part. That’s because I was a defender I guess.”

While the future of Harimau Muda is still uncertain, Shahrul’s rise could be seen as one of the positives for the development project.

Shahrul’s progress has not gone unnoticed after he was called up for national duty in September. The Perakian was among seven present and former Harimau Muda players in the squad. Fadhli Shas would have made it eight but he pulled out due to an ankle injury picked up in training.

“I got a chance to be with the team and now I want to work on that. It is not easy but I’m hoping I can be part of Malaysia’s long term plans,” Shahrul said.

“I’m still undecided where my best position is but I’m willing to play either roles for club and country. I need to get more matches under my belt.”

Photo: Felda United Media