Hafiz Sujad to renew Sultan of Selangor’s Cup battle with Amri Yahyah
The sight of Amri would bring up unpleasant memories for Singapore Selection’s Hafiz, whose SOS Cup debut in 2012 was marred by conceding a soft penalty against the Malaysian forward as their Selangor counterparts went on to win 3-1 that night.
Six years on, Hafiz has a chance to make amends as the evergreen 37-year-old is part of a Selangor FA trio alongside Razman Roslan and Rufino Segovia that is called up to an otherwise PKNS-dominated Selangor Selection led by Datuk K. Rajagobal.
Now into his second spell with the club after initially spending 12 years there from 2001 to 2013, Amri is revered by Selangor fans as their golden boy.
“He’s a very experienced player who knows how to gain an advantage in the game,” the 27-year-old told FOX Sports Asia. “Over here if you touch anybody a bit, it tends to be 90 percent a penalty. So I got to be cautious playing against him.
“I’ve not played against him for a long time, but I’ve seen him play. He’s older now, but he still has his technical abilities. From what I see, he still has his speed as well so we cannot give him space to play.”
Hafiz’s second SOS Cup experience in 2014 similarly did not end well, as he was sent off for a second bookable offence in the first half – following a late challenge on S. Kunanlan as the Singapore Selection went down 2-1 that year.
The Tampines Rovers utility man is certainly hoping that third time’s a charm as he looks to guide young debutants like club teammate Irfan Najeeb, Shaqi Sulaiman and Hafiz Sulaiman.
“Playing in front of a big crowd – surely it’s going to be jittery so the first 10 minutes is very important,” said Hafiz, who is set to be handed a start at left-back by Singapore Selection coach Marko Kraljevic.
“To overcome that is to keep on talking and shouting during the game. After the first 10 minutes, everything will fall into place if you focus. It’s going to be an intense game, but it’s important that the youngsters enjoy, soak in the atmosphere and work as a team.”
With the biennial AFF Suzuki Cup coming along in November, Hafiz is also hoping that a strong performance can cement his place in the Singapore squad after seeing limited game time since returning to Tampines earlier this year.
“Every game and every minute is important for me right now,” he said. “I need to perform to show to the coaches that I’m still here. I’ve not been playing that much, so I hope I can manage fitness-wise. It’s going to be an end-to-end game, so I need to be focused and steady myself to play.”
The Singapore Selection are targeting a third successive SOS Cup triumph, while their Selangor counterparts are looking to wrestle back the trophy which they last won in 2014.