News Live Scores

Azam declares fitness to give Malaysia a big boost

11:01 AM GMT+8 05/11/2019
Nor Azam Azih, Timor Leste v Malaysia, 2022 World Cup qualification, 11 Jun 2019
Pahang midfielder Nor Azam Azih revealed that his injury days are behind him now as he returns to the Malaysia national team fold.

There was no doubt what was missing for Tan Cheng Hoe when his Malaysian team fired blanks against Vietnam in the last 2022 World Cup qualification match played in October. Conspicuous in his absence was one Nor Azam Azih which ultimately saw a very blunt Harimau Malaya in attack against an opponent who were comfortable in the defending phase.

The 24-year-old Maran-born was instrumental in the first two matches of the group against Indonesia and United Arab Emirates where Malaysia showed their attacking capabilities. Azam was the one counted on to dictate the tempo of the match and be the creative fulcrum of the team with his range of passing. 

Acknowledging the expectations heaped on his shouders, Azam is determined to put Malaysia's qualifying campaign back on track against Thailand and Indonesia now that his injury concerns are a thing of the past. The right footer also welcomes the added options in midfield with Baddrol Bakhtiar and Afiq Fazail both added to the squad this time around.

"I'm ready for the three games including the friendly match. I've recovered from my injury and now it's about getting my fitness back on track. I do feel the pressure to perform but as we can see there are new players coming in like Baddrol and Afiq, so hopefully we can help each other to get points for the country.

"I didn't think we played too badly against Vietnam. It was an away game and in front of a big crowd, so maybe the team lost a little confidence during the game. I hope we can perform better in the next two qualifiers," said Azam prior to the training session on Monday.

In truth the midfield options called up by Cheng Hoe for the set of November fixtures offers far more variety, not to mention a significant upgrade on quality. Brendan Gan's performances in the past few matches should see him easily retain his place in the heart of Malaysia's midfield and the possibility of Syafiq Ahmad moving further forward could free up two spots in the middle.

That would mean Azam fighting it out with Baddrol and Afiq as well as Danial Amier and Syamer Kutty Abba for the remaining places in the starting line-up. But while individual quality is not in doubt, the combination and understanding of each other's game to play the kind of football that Cheng Hoe demands will be something to work on in training ahead of those crunch matches.


Follow Goal Malaysia on Instagram