By Keeshaanan Sundaresan
ATM defender Amiridzwan Taj claims that the supposed 'aged' ATM squad is more than capable of coping with the tough fixtures of the Malaysian Super League (MSL). The Gladiators have a lot of who 30 and above, which leads some fans to believe that they could crumble under the gruelling schedule.
MSL games are held as often as twice a week and while Amiridzwan agrees that the fixture can be challenging at times, he believes that the 'age' factor in ATM could actually be a blessing in disguise.
"I beg to differ with those claims," he told Goal.com Malaysia in an exclusive interview.
"You can compare it with our run in the Malaysia Cup last year. The core squad was pretty much the same but we did well to go all the way into the final. In fact, these 'aged' players bring a lot of experience to our side, which is very important at the end of the day. Old is gold for us.
"Honestly speaking, I'm okay with playing twice a week. But January was definitely a tough month for us as we played 7 games in 21 days. It was gruelling and players [were] injured easily under such conditions. Regardless, contrary to what many people say, I don't think age is a very big factor."
The MSL was on a three-week break to allow space for international games and it is set to resume next weekend. ATM will be taking on strugglers Negeri Sembilan at the Paroi Stadium in Seremban and Amiridzwan says the Deers are not to be underestimated.
"We cannot look down on Negeri Sembilan as this is a side that is filled with quality. They have the right balance between youth and experience and most importantly, there is a hunger for victory in them.
"The three-week break has allowed us to rest and recuperate. We've worked on several weaknesses and with all due respect to Negeri, we are raring to go again on Saturday," Amiridzwan added.