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Rajagopal earmarked Zarif and Rodney as potential Harimau Malaya

9:19 AM GMT+4 10/03/2019
K. Rajagopal, Terengganu v PKNS, Super League, 1 Feb 2019
As the Super League heads into its first international break, PKNS FC are sitting pretty in 4th and have the joint-best defensive record.

After six matches played, reigning champions and current league leaders Johor Darul Ta'zim have conceded six goals. They are behind PKNS FC and Kedah in that respect, and the defence in both teams are becoming the backbone in their respective rise to the top half of the table.

The 2-0 win achieved over Felda United at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday was PKNS' fourth consecutive clean sheet and with only two goals conceded thus far, K. Rajagopal's team are finding success all over the pitch. Due to that success, Nicholas Swirad has been called up to the Malaysia national team for the Airmarine Cup but Rajagopal think that is only the beginning.

Two other constant presence in the defence are Zarif Irfan in goal and Rodney Akwensivie at centre back, both of whom Rajagopal believe should be knocking at Tan Cheng Hoe's door sooner than what some may seem to think.

"Nicholas is not a right full back but we lost Ariff and Nik Shahrul. That's why we used Nicholas there and I think he has done well. It is up to the selecting committee and the national coach, he may see it in a different way. Not just Rodney but the goalkeeper also has been playing well.

"There's potential for them. The coaches know and it depends on what aspect and attributes they are looking for," said Rajagopal after the match.

In last night's match, PKNS only won by 2-0 against Felda but could have won by a far bigger margin had they convert all the chances that they had. Felda's Norazlan Razali was in impeccable form and despite having conceded two goals, still denied the home side at least two more clear cut goals.

Nidzam Jamil's side did try to stage a late comeback into the match after the introduction of Danial Amier into the team but it was too little too late for The Fighters but that momentary drop in concentration levels still bothered Rajagopal despite the win. 

"I'm satisfied with the three points but we have to be honest. Overall we wanted to play with better intensity and aggression but that was not really what we saw. At times there were good movement, quick circulation of the ball, we created chances but we should have done much better."

"What I saw in the last 15 minutes, really I was not happy. If Felda had got a goal, maybe they could have come back into the game. This was what I was shouting. We need the focus and just cannot release the gear and think everything is done," added Rajagopal.

 

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