Shahrul defends Amirul, Irfan following home leg draw

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Shahrul Saad, Perak
Malaysia defenders Amirul Azhan and Irfan Zakaria started in their first ever AFF Championship match, in their first leg final against Vietnam.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Malaysia centre back Shahrul Saad is adamant that fellow defenders Irfan Zakaria and Amirul Azhan Aznan, who started in their first AFF Championship match, in the 2-2 first leg final draw against Vietnam last Saturday, have done a good job.

Right back Amirul and centre back Irfan were handed the starting roles as replacements for the suspended Syahmi Safari and injured Aidil Zafuan respectively, and were constantly troubled by the speedy and clinical Vietnam attackers at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

The visitors blitzed Malaysia with two quick-fire goals by Nguyễn Huy Hùng (22') and Phạm Đức Huy (25') to put themselves in the driving seat, but Shahrul Saad nodded in Akram Mahinan's free kick from the left to pull one back in the 36th minute, before Safawi Rasid curled in a 60th minute free kick equaliser from just outside the Vietnam penalty box.

"Whoever the replacements are, they will give their very best. There's still a chance for us in the away tie. Whoever is given the chance to start will be at 100 per cent.

"I had to cover the defence from time to time in the match, but despite the fact that it was Irfan and Amirul's first outing in the first eleven, I believe they gave their best and defended well. The two Vietnam goals cannot be blamed on them, it's just that Vietnam were very good," remarked Shahrul when met after the match on Saturday.

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