It was a night to remember for Singapore’s rising star Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman against Italian giants Juventus, with the defender admitting he got a little emotional before taking on Patrice Evra for almost an hour on Saturday.
With such vaunted opponents and in front of a large crowd at the National Stadium, one could hardly blame Al-Qaasimy for feeling a little edgy before kickoff.
“It was a really exciting experience,” the Courts Young Lions defender told FourFourTwo.
“I got so pumped up during the warm up as it was my first time playing at the National Stadium.
“Coming up side by side with the Juve players, I was trying to process everything in my mind. During the national anthem, I was actually a little in tears.”
However the right-back managed to calm those nerves and produced a competent 60-minute display for the Singapore Selection – putting in various challenges against new Juventus left-back Evra, including one which he admitted he got horribly wrong.
“It was definitely an eye-opener for me,” he said.
“I watched videos of Evra on YouTube to prepare myself mentally before the game.
“I know that he is a good crosser when out wide, so the instruction to me was to keep him from crossing the ball which could lead to goals.
“I actually learnt a lot from him during the game although I had one unfortunate tackle on him.”
That incident came late in the first half where Evra’s movement proved too much for the full back.
“I think he went past (Miroslav) Pejic who’s playing at right wing,” Al-Qaasimy recalled.
“I had a 50-50 match-up with him physically and both of us was chasing the ball.
“I wanted to slide the ball out, but he got a slight touch in front – that’s why I totally missed out on the ball and caught him.”
It was perhaps unfortunate that the young defender had to limp off after an hour due to a knock sustained after clashing with Evra in the first half.
However the young man remains satisfied with the role he played in the game, as was looking forward to battling Faritz Hameed for the first choice right-back slot ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
“I’m satisfied with how I played, although I’m not too sure about my opportunities with the national team,” said Al-Qaasimy, who has yet to receive his first international cap.
“In the build-up to this Juve game, I actually had a talk with coach Bernd (Stange).
“He told me that it was a headache to compare Faritz and me, because we are both doing well.
“He advised me to just keep working hard and to fight for my place.”
After such a memorable night, it was perhaps a tad disappointing for Al-Qaasimy that he missed out on the exchanging jerseys with a player he admired.
Teammates Baihakki Khaizan and Zulfahmi Arifin both managed to snag Paul Pogba’s and Claudio Marchisio’s tops respectively but Al-Qaasimy reveals that he missed out on his target.
“I was supposed to get (Sebastian) Giovinco’s!” the 22-year-old said.
“In the tunnel before the game, I went up to him and asked him whether I could get his jersey after the game.
“He was jokingly telling me ‘okay can, just don’t tackle me’, but I got injured halfway during the second half so Safuwan (Baharudin) went up to him first after the game.”
True to his nature though, the right-back is refusing to let it get in the way of his memorable evening.
“Never mind, I can still buy it off a Nike shop or something!” he joked.comments