Shahrom ready to don Malaysia's jersey again

Honoured to be recalled into the national team after a long absence, Selangor captain Shahrom Kalam tells Vijhay Vick of his eagerness to repay the coach’s faith, his readiness to start against Saudi Arabia and that the Red Giants are having psychological issues.

Shahrom Kalam has established himself at Selangor but he is still a fresh face in the Malaysian squad despite making his debut in 2011.

The 30-year-old was among the finest local centre-backs in the local scene last year, finishing 2015 on a high as his blossoming partnership with Australian Robert Cornthwaite formed the backbone for Selangor’s Malaysia Cup win in December.

Having played in Malaysia’s warm-up match against MK Land on Saturday, Shahrom is among Ong Kim Swee’s options to partner vice-captain Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak in the heart of defence against Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

READ ALSO: FourFourTwo’s Malaysia vs Saudi Arabia preview

Based on recent form, it is expected to be a straight toss between Shahrom and young Perak defender Shahrul Saad, who having been groomed by Ong at Harimau Muda, may have an advantage. Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) Fadhli Shas and Selangor’s Adam Nor Azlin are the other call ups but they have not been getting much playing time at their clubs.

“I made five appearances under K. Rajagobal but that was it, I never truly established myself. I feel there couldn’t be a better time than now as I am in my peak,” Shahrom told FourFourTwo.

“It’s an honour for any player to be in the national team … I feel proud to have earned a recall. I was pleased when I saw my name in the list. I need to repay the faith Ong has shown in me.

“I don’t expect any problems slotting in beside Aidil, Shahrul or Fadhli. They all have experience, even though a couple of them are young ... experience comes very handy in the role we play and having that in this squad, makes it easier to partner each other.”

Shahrom was also among FourFourTwo’s picks in ten potential call-ups for the Tigers squad.

Photo: Asiana.my

Shahrom, a product of the Kuala Lumpur academy and Bukit Jalil Sports School, signed for Selangor at the end of a two-year stint in Perak in 2013. He was a regular starter as Selangor finished the 2014 Malaysia Super League (MSL) season with the best defensive record, having conceded 19 goals in 22 league matches.

Selangor started their 2016 season in fine form, with their defence providing the platform to which allowed them to go top of the MSL standings. However, Selangor’s early wins proved to be a false dawn after three consecutive defeats in as many competitions this month.

Shahrom feels his teammates are capable of upping the ante but felt they were not in the right frame of mind to do so.

“It’s been a tough ride so far. I feel of style of play is fine, just some fine tuning needed here and there, but more importantly is our mental strength … we have to correct that,” said Shahrom.

“We have to get back our winning mentality and discipline in defending. That way we’ll be more organised. Personally, I have to raise my alertness and work on my agility.”

READ ALSO: Off the pitch with Shahrom

Main photo: FAM