The Malaysia FA Cup match against KL SPA Putrajaya on Saturday evening will be Sahil Suhaimi's opportunity to shine as he looks set for a first LionsXII start alongside Khairul Amri.
The 22-year-old striker has wasted little time making his mark in his first season in Malaysian league football, coming off the bench to score three goals from four matches in all competitions.
FFT PREVIEW Malaysia FA Cup: LionsXII vs KL SPA Putrajaya
Saturday will see Sahil thrust into the starting line-up for the first time since his move from S.League side Courts Young Lions.
It looks an impressive goal rate for the nippy forward on paper, but he admits it has been a tough transition period in the past few months as he gets used to life in a different league.
“It took a little bit of time for me to adjust to the Malaysian game,” Sahil told FourFourTwo after training on Friday.
“The foreign defenders are all physically powerful and fast, but after the second game (against Perak), I am getting used to the new and higher level of intensity.”
The national striker has made an impact everytime he has come off the bench, providing a useful foil for Amri with his strong physique and unsettling pace in a two-pronged attack.
Mentored by legendary striker and head coach Fandi Ahmad, Sahil's improvement has been apparent as he showed guile and craftiness to elude markers and put himself in dangerous goal scoring positions.
“Sahil has taken time to settle down and learn our style of play, strategy and communication with his teammates since he joined us,” Fandi said.
“The Malaysian league is a different league with a completely different ball game out there on the pitch.
“Thus we want him to watch and learn to see and observe any loopholes in the opponents’ defence before he comes on to change our game.”
Sahil's blossoming partnership with Amri has led to calls for Fandi to play the duo up front more often.
“I am happy we have good understanding with each other on the pitch and we know how and where we are going to make our runs,” Sahil said.
“I have noticed that Amri prefers to receive service on the ground, so I look up and pass the ball low. A few one-twos we made have created problems for our opponents.”
With goals the main priority for LionsXII in their Cup match, the young striker is looking to make the best use of his opportunity and aims to offer Fandi a tactical dilemma with a strong showing against the minnows.
“Whenever there is a chance for me to play, I will do my best and make the full use of it,” Sahil said.
“As for the level of our opponents, we cannot underestimate those below us, so we will take each team seriously.”
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FFTcomments