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Shakir's defensive prowess is a huge asset for Kelantan.

Man of the Match: Terengganu 1-3 Kelantan

Shakir's defensive prowess is a huge asset for Kelantan.

The Star

Goal looks at the player that made it all possible for Kelantan to win in Kuala Terengganu on Tuesday


Shakir Shaari
Terengganu 1-3 Kelantan
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In the fierce battle of the east coast, Kelantan emerged as the winners to give them a fighting chance to qualify for the quarterfinals of the 2013 Malaysia Cup. Only Pahang and Negeri Sembilan will be left to deny reigning champions, Kelantan from going through. By virtue of winning at Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, Kelantan also effectively knocked out their local rivals from the competition.

It is not uncommon that usually the strikers or the goal scorers tend to be the first name that crops up when deciding on the man of the match. In a way, the defensive players always get overlooked in place of the more offensive players.

However, it is hard to deny the pivotal role that Shakir Shaari played in ensuring that his team returned home with three points.

The Malaysia international who favours the defensive midfield role, was the fulcrum in which Kelantan built their victory. Never venturing beyond the half way line, Shakir stuck to the job that was entrusted to him. That is to ensure that his defenders get adequate support to deny the five-man midfield of Terengganu. To do that without conceding a whole host of free kicks, only adds to his wonderful performance.

Lest we forget, Shakir was also one of the reasons why Malaysia only suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of China recently. Having been outplayed in the entire first half with gaps appearing everywhere, Shakir was brought on to shore up the midfield and no goals were conceded during his time on the pitch.

What is evident from the match yesterday is the simplicity of Shakir’s game. Break down the opposition’s moves and release the recovered ball to the nearest teammate. It’s that simple but it’s the efficiency in which he does it, that makes him stand out. Bojan Hodak must be delighted with his performance on Tuesday night.

If Kelantan are to go far in the competition, Shakir’s role will not be small.