Malaysia hero Thanabalan remains humbled by teammates and fans' support

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Thanabalan Nadarajah's goal for Malaysia against Indonesia on Saturday is his fourth in this year's SEA Games.

Despite the accolades received by Malaysia forward Thanabalan Nadarajah for scoring the hosts' winner against archrivals Indonesia in their 1-0 SEA Games football semi-final win on Saturday, the 22-year old has his feet planted firmly on the ground.

With the match at the Shah Alam Stadium looking to be heading into extra time with both sides unable to break the deadlock, in the 87th minute the Felcra FC man found himself in the right spot again, to head home Nor Azam Azih's corner kick and send the Young Tigers into the final against Thailand. It was also his fourth goal in the tournament, tying Myanmar's Aung Thu and Vietnam's Nguyễn Công Phượng in the topscorers' tally.

But when asked by Goal after the match, Thanabalan looked bashful to be labelled a hero, and was quick to deflect the praise to his teammates and the home fans.

"I have to thank my teammates for their contributions. All my goals came from quality deliveries and rebounds, if it's not for them I would not have been able to score.

"The supporters at the stadium too have my gratitude," said the forward.

He too pointed out his preference for scoring with headers, saying that their unpredictibility is an advantage for him.

"Heading is my favourite (way of scoring). Ever since I was a boy I found it hard to score with my feet, but I've been working on my heading.

"From what I've been told by several coaches, headers are more accurate than shots, and attempts made using the legs can be predicted, while headers are a lot more unpredictable," he revealed.

But his focus has already turned to the final match against Thailand, and he said that he has no personal glory to hunt in the clash, despite his current goal tally.

"We lost 3-0 to Thailand recently in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers, so we have to do better this time around. We must not take things easily.

"I don't care if I don't score, as long as we win," he noted.

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The final match will be played on Tuesday, August 29 at the Shah Alam Stadium with kickoff time at 8.45 pm.

Thanabalan speaking to the press after the match

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