Nazirul always prepared to be fielded

Malaysia v Thailand - AFF Suzuki Cup 2018
Malaysia defender Nazirul Naim made his first appearance in the AFF Championship, in their first leg semi-final match against Thailand last Saturday.

By Ooi Kin Fai and Zulhilmi Zainal

After four matches, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim was finally handed his first appearance in the 2018 AFF Championship, as a late substitution in their first leg semi-final match against Thailand.

Last Saturday, when Syazwan Andik Ishak had to be pulled off by head coach Tan Cheng Hoe with what looked to be a muscle pull in the 72nd minute, Nazirul was selected to replace him.

Against a relatively more-defensive Thailand side, Nazirul gave a good account of himself, to help the Harimau Malaya record a 0-0 draw at home.

Speaking to Goal just before the squad left for Bangkok on Monday, the Perak defender explained his feelings on his first outing.

"Of course I was a bit nervous to be playing for the first time in this campaign, I didn't foresee Syazwan's injury.

"But we the back-up players are always prepared. We don't know what can happen. I think I did well in the remaining 20 minutes or so, praise Allah.

"Whatever the outcome is on Syazwan's injury, I'm now ready for the second leg in Bangkok. Anything can happen at the Rajamangala Stadium," said the Malaysia Cup winner.

The second leg in Bangkok will be played on Wednesday, December 5, 8.00 pm Malaysian time.

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