Exclusive: Adam Nor on life at JDT and the art of tackling

Adam Nor Azlin, Johor Darul Ta'zim
Johor Southern Tigers
It was a major coup for Johor Darul Ta'zim to sign Adam Nor Azlin and returns for the first time to face his former side in Klang Valley.

Selangor will face JDT this Saturday at KLFA Stadium in Match Day 10 of the 2018 Super League season and there will be familiar faces on both sides of the divide. Selangor’s Amri Yahyah put on the JDT kit for three seasons from 2014 to 2016, while Norazlan Razali also spent some time with the Johor Southern Tigers.

On the other side, Azrif Nasrulhaq and Nazmi Faiz were part of the Red Giants prior to their move down south. But the sight of Adam Nor Azlin with JDT is still a fresh wound for any Selangor fans.

A permanent starter back under the tutelage of P. Maniam and a potential captain of the team, Adam made the brave decision at the end of the 2017 season, to seek newer challenges at JDT where he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter.

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Speaking exclusively to Goal, Adam revealed that the move hasn’t been an easy one but one that has seen him gained plenty of exposure particularly in getting his chance in the AFC Cup competition.

“It wasn’t easy at the start. I struggled in the first two months,” said Adam. “Now, I’ve adapted to the style of JDT. We have the mission in every game so I needed to adapt to the pressure and perform in every game.

“Every player wants to play often. I used to start often in my old team but now I’m in a big team with players who are high calibre. So my chances to play are slim.

“But I have to thank TMJ who constantly tells me that I will get my chances and I’ve gotten a few of them. The experience to play in the AFC Cup has been an eye opener for me. It’s a good platform for us to show what we can do.”

Adam Nor Azlin, Ong Kim Swee, Malaysia U23, 16012018

A star in the making from a very young age, Adam was one of youngest players to be entrusted by Ong Kim Swee and the Young Tigers squad. The SEA Games and AFC Under-23 qualifiers last year, was probably the pivotal moment that made people sit up and realise just what a talented player Adam was.

If in the past Adam could be seen being utilised in a number of positions from the attack to midfield, defence is where the 22-year-old sees his future is.

Central defenders tend to mature later in their career than attackers or midfielders. There are still many more improvements that Adam could make but one area where he is already excelling in – is the art of tackling.

“I always aim for the right timing. If we timed it wrong, we can concede a penalty. In every situation, I have to judge whether I can get the ball. My timing and the angle in which I go in for the tackle has to be right.

“For me it has to be at least 70-80% confidence that I’ll be able to get the ball then I will go in for the challenge. Or when the ball is slightly away from the control of the opponent. Else, all I can do is to delay them.”

There are still flaws in his game and perhaps his distribution out from defence is something that coaches at JDT can work on but his timing on tackles is close to perfection.

Rarely does Adam mistimed a challenge, let alone concede a penalty. He did so in the away AFC Cup tie against Persija Jakarta but that seemed to an exception rather than the rule.

Adam Nor Azlin

“I have to ensure that the referee see it as a mean to get the ball and not to injure the opponent. The way I go in will also be crucial because some strikers can be clever to manipulate the situation and force a decision from the referee.

“It’s slightly different in and outside the penalty box. If it’s inside, we can’t let the players have the space and time because they will be nearer to the goal. So the decision making has to be more accurate and heightened. If it’s outside or near the sideline, we can just hold.”

Admittedly, Adam is also acutely aware that the best defenders in the world aren’t the ones that always go to ground and are required to make last-ditch tackles.

Defending is more about a collective rather than the individual and the former Bukit Jalil Sports School protégé understands that there are step-ups to be made in his game, despite such improvements that would probably sideline his best attributes as a centre back.

“We can prevent from tackling if we organise better and communicate between defenders. So there will be no balls behind that force the defender to make those tackle decisions,” explained Adam.