BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia defender Nazirul Naim is grateful for the support shown by the Malaysia fans throughout their recent 2018 AFF Championship campaign.
The Malayan Tigers fans, who have been dubbed the 'ekor' (followers, literally tails) of their team, might have taken slightly longer to warm up to this edition of the tournament, with their first home match, a 3-1 win over Laos on November 12, only attended by 12,127 fans, but their interest picked up in the latter stages of the tournament.
Their last three home matches were played in front of sold-out crowds at the 87,411-capacity Bukit Jalil National Stadium, while their away semi-final and final ties saw Malaysia fans providing ample support for the eventual runners-up.
And the Perak man is fully aware of the sacrifices made by their supporters in order to follow their beloved team.
"I am very grateful towards the supporters who sacrificed a lot to follow us, they gave up their time and money to cheer us on throughout this tournament.
"They have my gratitude," remarked the 25-year old left back.
The defender is also grateful for the fans' intervention in one incident, just before their second leg final match against Vietnam in Hanoi last Saturday.
The away fans were having difficulties entering the crowded My Dinh National Stadium compound for the match, including the wives, children and family members of several of the players.
According to reports, the supporter group Ultras Malaya formed a human barricade to protect the female and young fans, which included the wives and children of Nazirul and another defender Shahrul Saad, and to allow them to enter safely.
Thank you @ultrasmalaya07 who formed a human barricade to guard us in a sea of 🇻🇳 fans. Together we moved to the gate. We were pushed hard but had to force ourselves in. @shahrulsaad’s daughter here even lost a shoe. In the end we’re all safe. An experience we’ll never forget pic.twitter.com/Z02vMiVuYD— Aysha Ridzuan (@ayshardzn) December 16, 2018
"To those who assisted in protecting my wife and that of Shahrul's, I am thankful for their assistance.
"It's because of them that my wife and child were able to enter the ground and support me," he said when met by Goal on Sunday.
Keep updated on the 2018 AFF Championship!
- Malaysia news
- Tournament news
- Team profiles
- Fixtures and television schedule
- Malaysia photo gallery
- Tournament gallery
Follow Goal Malaysia 's Instagram account to see photos and watch videos from the AFF Championship!