First-time Malaysia call-up Veenod eager to fulfil lifelong target

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Having never represented Malaysia at any level, S. Veenod embarks on a new path with the Tigers’ squad, one he wishes to remain in for the considerable future. 

Selangor midfielder S. Veenod insisted he is in the Malaysia squad to stay and having worked his way into the line-ups of four coaches at the Red Giants, the tireless Penangite vows to play into Ong Kim Swee’s heart.

At 28, Veenod’s first call-up to the national team may be considered late but make no mistakes - he is not merely in the squad to make up numbers following 13 changes – mostly forced – for Malaysia’s international friendly against Indonesia on September 6.

The box-to-box midfielder tells FourFourTwo he missed his chance during a youth call-up nine years ago and isn’t thinking of letting another opportunity slip.

“I’m excited” was the first words he uttered when we met after a training a session at Wisma FAM.

I’m proud that I’m here now and want to make a lasting impression so I stay in the squad

“I was called-up by Robert Alberts for the Under-19 Champions Youth Cup in 2007 but I slacked and didn’t feature a single game. It was a bitter experience and I told myself I needed to step up,” said Veenod.

“As the years went by, I never once thought I would miss the boat. I kept asking myself when I’ll be called up but didn’t dwell too much as I kept on doing my thing at Selangor, hoping to impress the coaches.

“I’m proud that I’m here now and want to make a lasting impression so I stay in the squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup. I’ve never played for the country so every match excites me.”

Veenod is behind Kelantan’s Brendan Gan and Kedah’s Baddrol Bakhtiar in the pecking order but just like he did at Selangor, the workhorse is ready to challenge for a starting place.

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Veenod has been waiting for this moment his whole life, to play for Malaysia. Photo: PDRM

Veenod has after all fought his way through his entire career since his youth days with Penang. Far from being a key player for the Panthers, Veenod joined USM in 2011 and a year later went on loan to Selangor for the 2012 Malaysia Cup after the university side failed to qualify for the competition.

He made his move to the Red Giants permanent the following year after impressing Irfan Bakti Abu Salim, who in turned used Veenod regularly in 2013.

He fell down the pecking order again when Mehmet Durakovic arrived in the dugout in 2014 but he stayed and forced his way back into contention with hard work, earning plaudits from the Australian.

I’m on my toes so I can impress the coach

“I kept challenging myself to return to the starting 11 at Selangor and it paid off. I want to do the same here,” said Veenod.

“It’s been a few days only so far but I am comfortable around the other players. The style of training is different and intensity is higher though. I’m on my toes so I can impress the coach.”

Veenod could be handed a start against Indonesia if Gan does not return to full fitness. Gan has been training separately this week and may not even make the trip to Solo if he does not get clearance from the medical staff.

Main Photo: Selangor