Even since Safee started appearing for the senior Malaysia national team back in 2006, he has been the player that the team has relied on to find the back of the net. With 23 international goals, plenty of which played with the number 10 on his back.
At 35 years of age now, Safee is still playing professional football for PJ City FC but last appeared for the national team back in 2017. Two years on, Safee still keeps a keen eye on the on-goings with the national team and is liking what he sees with the new Malaysia number 10.
Shahrel is the one who inherited the number and the Perak man was at the top of his game to score a perfect hattrick against Timor Leste on Tuesday, earning the praise of his predecessor in a video published on Safee's instagram feed yesterday.
"First of all I want to congratulate the national team in beating Timor Leste comfortably, 7-1 and 5-1. Above all, I want to credit Shahrel Fikri for proving that he has what it takes to wear the number 10 jersey. It is not easy to get a hattrick at the international level even though against Timor Leste. So I want to congratulate him for doing the jersey proud.
"From what I can see is that he has the confidence to play for the national team now. He’s been given a lot of minutes with Perak in the Super League which also helps him in these two matches," said Safee in the video.
Ironically, both players will be facing each other on Friday when PJ City welcomes Perak at the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council Stadium for the resumption of the 2019 Malaysia Super League season. It would offer Safee an even closer look at the player who in current form looks to be the man to take on his previous mantle with the national team.
If Shahrel is to continue to make good progress with Tan Cheng Hoe's team, following and learning from what Safee did with Harimau Malaya would only do him the world of good.
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