in

AFF Cup: Kalamullah a step closer to Harimau Malaya stripes

Kalamullah Al-Hafiz Mat Rowi and Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi. The goalkeeper described the rare opportunity to be listed in the national squad in Singapore as a new experience and something very special for him because he has never felt big-match atmosphere like the AFF Cup before. — Picture from Facebook/Football Association of Malaysia

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates.


KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — The absence of Selangor FC goalkeeper Mohd Khairulazhan Mohd Khalid, who tested positive for Covid-19 recently, has paved the way for Petaling Jaya City FC player Kalamullah Al-Hafiz Mat Rowi to be listed in the starting line-up for the AFF Cup in Singapore.

Excitement clearly radiated on the face of the 26-year-old custodian after receiving a second call-up to join the national squad for the tournament, which kicked-off yesterday and is scheduled to end on January 1, 2022.

Despite no guarantee yet about his debut for the Harimau Malaya on the international stage, Kalamullah will not let the pressure get to him and is determined to focus fully if he gets the green-light from head coach Tan Cheng Hoe to dive into the tournament.

The goalkeeper from Kota Baru, Kelantan, described the rare opportunity to be listed in the national squad in Singapore as a new experience and something very special for him because he has never felt big-match atmosphere like the AFF Cup before.

“I don’t want to feel pressured but will focus on showing my abilities if given the opportunity to see match action,” he told Bernama today.

Kalamullah, who got his first call-up to the national squad in October, had only warmed the bench in two international friendly matches against Jordan and Uzbekistan then.

However, following Khairulazhan having to undergo self-quarantine for 10 days after being confirmed positive for Covid-19, Kalamullah got to grab a seat alongside the experienced Khairul Fahmi Che Mat to be goalkeeper for Malaysia for at least the next three matches.

Apart from Khairulazhan, nimble winger from Terengganu FC, Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim, also tested positive for Covid-19.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in a statement said if further testing finds that both players have changed their status to negative for Covid-19, then they would be allowed to return to team activities immediately and also be able to play in Malaysia’s remaining matches of the AFF tournament.

Meanwhile, Kalamullah, for whom Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea is his idol, is confident that his teammates will be able to perform well on the field and meet the target of qualifying for the Cup final for two consecutive editions, after becoming runners-up in 2018.

He was also grateful to be given guidance and learning many useful techniques to strengthen his goalkeeping agility from Khairul Fahmi and Khairulazhan in the national training camp ahead of the previous AFF Cup.

Malaysia will open the curtain in Group B action against Cambodia at Bishan Stadium at 5.30pm followed by Laos on December 9 before facing Vietnam (December 12) and Indonesia in their final group stage match on December 19. — Bernama

Reference