Watch this space – Eight lower-league Malaysians destined for stardom

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Irfan Zakaria (Kuala Lumpur)

The 22-year-old is slowly becoming one of the best defensive players in the country.

A member of Harimau Muda B in 2014, Irfan plays in defensive midfield for his MPL club, Kuala Lumpur, but he can also fit in as a centre-back.

He played in the heart of defence for Ong Kim Swee’s side in the AFC Under-23 Qualifiers in Bangkok last month.

The tough-tackling Irfan is also in the squad for the SEA Games.

Irfan, who is skilful and has good vision, is now on the radar of several big teams and it could be tough for KL to keep him if they fail to earn promotion to the MSL next season.

Shafiq Shaharudin (Johor Darul Ta’zim II)

The 23-year-old could one day emulate his father Shaharuddin Abdullah, who is widely regarded as one of the finest footballers to play in the Malaysia League from the late-1960s to the early-1980s.

The forward made his debut for Johor Darul Ta’zim II (JDT II) in 2014, where he netted two goals in the Malaysia Cup.

He was promoted to JDT II after his impressive record of scoring 14 goals for the state’s youth team in the President’s Cup earlier that year.

The striker was in Ong Kim Swee’s plans for the 2015 SEA Games but couldn’t play due to a delay in his registration.

In 2016 he scored four goals for JDT II, but this year he has only netted twice so far due to limited playing time.

Shafiq is rated highly but he should consider moving to another club as he needs more matches to build his confidence and maturity in the hope of becoming a top striker.