International Watch : Zhafri Lands His First Appearance In Harimau Malaya’s 3-0 Win

Six years is a long time. That was how long Zhafri waited, and finally all that hard work and patience put in over the past year or so, continues to bear rewards. The Malaysia Cup triumph with the City Boys last December will forever be etched in his memory, that plus his exploits in the Red and White early this season, earned him his first appearance in Harimau Malaya colours on Monday, in the closed door friendly match against Albirex Niigata, which Malaysia won 3-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.


National coach Kim Pan Gon made wholesale changes, giving starts to 10 out of 11 players who did not feature in the first eleven during the 2-0 win over the Philippines or the 1-2 loss to hosts Singapore in the Tri Nations Series. Liridon Krasniqi opened the scoring after 9 minutes, his second goal in this tour of the city state, and Mohamadou Sumareh made 2-0 right before the break. Midway through the second half in the 65th minute, Faisal Halim hammered the final nail the coffin of the Japanese side who play in Singapore”s Premier League (SPL), currently occupying second spot, with 2 wins and a draw, after 4 rounds of matches, just a point behind leaders, Tanjong Pagar.


Zhafri who played the entire match as an attacking midfielder had this to say when contacted by The Voice of The City Boys, “(I am) Extremely happy to join the national team for the first time. I am thankful the coach trusted me to play the whole match. It’s been priceless, the entire experience. I’m honoured and was excited, even when they asked me to join up with the squad for the trainings in Bukit Jalil. I’m grateful.”


Zhafri added “I won’t take anything granted nor do I expect to automatically see my name in the national team list. I know what’s important is to show the best of me for the team in the league, consistently, and hopefully this chance will come again.”


The Man of The Match in the Malaysia Cup final win against Johor DT also gave some insights on working with Kim Pan Gon.


“He has a good game plan and philosophy of how he wants to play. His tactics are effective and as players, we get on well with him and the staff. It’s a good relationship. He’s clever, bring harmony to the team. His training sessions are not unlike Bojan’s.”


This last fixture of the tour provided the final opportunity for those unused and sparingly used in the Tri Nations Series, to impress Kim Pang Gon, who will take plenty of positives in Malaysia’s preparations for the third round of the 2023 Asia Cup qualifying games coming up in June 2022.