BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali has had a splendid week. After getting benched for the most part of the first stretch of the season, following a horrendous performance against PKNS FC that saw him concede five goals in the 5-3 Super League defeat, he was given a chance to prove himself again by head coach Maniam Pachaiappan, in the hectic month of July.
With Maniam relying on squad rotation heavily, Norazlan was back in the starting eleven for the first time after 13 games, beginning in their Malaysia Cup group match against Sarawak on July 8. He performed well enough in the away match which they won 2-1, but it was nothing to write home about.
But in the next seven days, he would turn in a performance so brilliant that it helped the Red Giants earn four points in two back-to-back away Super League matches.
Against Perak last Tuesday, the 31-year custodian kept a clean sheet after Liberian striker Forkey Doe gave the visitors an unlikely lead while they were playing with their backs to the wall, to win 1-0.
And against Kedah at the Darul Aman Stadium on Saturday, Norazlan played even better. Although the match ended in a 1-1 draw, it was an encounter that the home side could have won by two or three goals, had it not been for Norazlan's heroics, who repeatedly denied the hosts' chances.
Norazlan was benched by by Maniam in their 3-2 Malaysia Cup group match win over JDT on Tuesday, with the trainer citing the need to keep their other goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid match-fit, but Goal managed to speak to the Johor-born player after the match, asking him about his resurgence.
"I've been working hard in training, the goalkeeping coach Azlisham [Ib Berahim] has helped me immensely.
"And after recovering from my broken cheek bone (at the start of the season), I've found my form again. And when I was given the chance, praise Allah I was able to perform," explained the 31-year old goalkeeper.
Azlisham is a former Selangor and Malaysia goalkeeper himself, ending his playing career in 2005 with the Red Giants.
With the goalkeeper positions in the Malaysia national team set to be up for grabs due to the suspension received by Farizal Marlias and Khairul Fahmi Che Mat's drop in performance, we asked Norazlan whether there is a chance for him to return to the national team set up.
"I'm not sure about my chances, but all that is on my mind is to help the team.
"That's my only personal target at the moment," he responded.
He also echoed this pragmatic sentiment when asked about Selangor's chances of making their third consecutive Malaysia Cup final appearance this year, following the win over JDT.
"What we need to do first is to qualify (to the knockout stage). And then we'll go from one match to another.
"Of course we want to go all the way to the final. If everyone sticks to the coach's plans, God willing we will be in the final again this year," said the former JDT and Kuala Lumpur goalkeeper.