It was a personal milestone for Kenny Pallraj as the 25-year-old makes his first ever international start for Malaysia against Kyrgyzstan in Tuesday's friendly match played at Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka. While the result was not a positive one, the manner of the performance was with Kenny playing a starring role in midfield.
Receiving his first senior call-up back in July for the friendly against Fiji, Kenny had to bid his time and was given a chance in the previous game against Sri Lanka when he replaced Mahali Jasuli at the start of the second half. Just four days later, the Perak player's name went into the starting eleven team sheet.
Paired with Syamer Kutty Abba at the base of midfield, they combined well even though there were some shaky moments at the match when both players went forward at the same time, leaving gaps in the centre of the pitch. But gradually both players came to the fore and became the foundation of Malaysia's solid performance.
"It's not a personal achievement for me but more about the team. As a team we did well and all supporteed me. After so long, I'm playing in midfield again. I hope I did a good job and impressed the coach as well as my team mates."
"This match is tougher because the tempo is very high and demanding physically. I know the result matters in the end but we did well. We created a lot of chances against a team much higher than us in the rankings. But it's a good test for us for our preparations for the AFF," Kenny told Goal after the match.
This season, Kenny has been used more in wider positions in midfield under Mehmet Durakovic at Perak even though he's known more as a central midfielder. In many ways, he's a similar sort of player to Syamer, who is several years his junior.
Still with plenty to play for at club level with Perak still in the hunt for the Malaysia Cup, Kenny will be hoping that he gets a chance with Durakovic to not only help his team secure a long awaited cup triumph but also to cement his place at the national team.
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