Interviews

Syamer Kutty: SEA Games, relegation scrap and the desire to play abroad

Penang youngster Syamer Kutty Abba is establishing himself in Malaysia’s squad for the AFC Under-23 qualifiers and SEA Games and could be in high demand when the season ends in October. The 19-year-old tells Vijhay Vick of his desire to scale greater heights, starting with some challenges right around the corner.

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Once a trainee of the Harimau Muda project, playing for the ‘C’ squad under Hassan Sazali Waras, Syamer is making heads turn in the Malaysia Under-22 squad currently preparing for two major competitions.

Though among the younger players in the team, the Penangite’s previous involvement with Harimau Muda means he has been groomed to play for Malaysia, and having donned the national colours for younger age-groups in the past, Syamer is eager to make a mark in his SEA Games debut come August in Kuala Lumpur.

I want to play abroad and will jump at the chance to do so. I want to explore things and become a better player

- Syamer Kutty Abba

Penang’s on-going relegation battle in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) may actually be benefiting Syamer too as it has made him more mature and confident in himself.

Syamer was among the players Under-22 coach Ong Kim Swee mentioned that impressed during a three-week camp in June, which included a three-match tour in China.

Malaysia lost 1-0 to China Under-22 in the opening matche before coming from two goals behind to hold Guangzhou R&F reserves 2-2. Malaysia defeated Guangzhou Evergrande reserves 3-0 in the final match.

“I see that there has been some progress for myself, some better things I have learned here during the camp … tactical and technical stuff,” Syamer told FourFourTwo.

“It’s really good for me. I am giving 100 per cent and trying to prove myself in every session we have, both training and the matches we played. Hopefully, everything works well.

“I’m enjoying a lot of things … the new teammates compared to Penang, the good environment, a good coach and great sessions. I want to bring this back to the MSL and keep improving.

Syameer admitted the intensity levels while in camp were higher than what he was used to with Penang, but insists he has been pushing himself harder and harder to get himself ready.

The AFC Under-23 qualifiers in Bangkok in July will serve as an indicator of where Syamer and Ong’s charges stand ahead of the Games. Syamer felt the sudden change of coach in March had little effect on the team.

Ong was demoted from the senior team as soon as Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim took charge of the Football Association of Malaysia, while German Frank Bernhardt, who was appointed in January 2016, was sacked.

“That’s nothing to worry about nor was it difficult for us as we just need to carry on playing," he said. "As players, we must be ready for changes even if it was a short period left to the competition.

“There are two months to go before the SEA Games and we will compete in the AFC qualifiers too. I believe we are getting better and better.”