Ambitious Azzizan targeting a first team spot

The Sabah midfielder is determined to force himself into Tan Cheng Hoe's thinking and is not satisfied to just be a squad member.

When Azzizan sat on the bench in Phnom Penh in the last international friendly Malaysia played against Cambodia, it was his first time witnessing up close the national team. His first ever international call-up but his experience was increased two-fold midway through the first half.

Perak's Nasir Basharuddin started the match in the centre of midfield but suffered an injury halfway through the first period and could not continue. Tan Cheng Hoe signalled for Azzizan and thus began his first bow at international level.

The 24-year-old was previously part of the Young Tigers team that competed in the S-League before the team was disbanded and he moved back to Sabah to ply his trade. Producing a calming effect in central midfield in his first outing for the senior country team, Azzizan is raring to go again with this second call-up.

"Against Cambodia, initially I was nervous because I wasn't used to international game but in the second half it was better. As this is the second time I'm being called up, I want to start fighting for a place in the first eleven."

"In training this time, it's to get to build up an understanding with the other players because some of them were not in the previous squad. I'm just keeping my focus and ensuring that my game goes well," Azzizan told Goal.

With Akram Mahinan pulling out of the squad at the last minute due to injury, there's a big chance that Azzizan could well be in line to start against Sri Lanka later today. Vying with him for the two sitting roles in midfield that Tan normally employs are Kenny Pallraj and Syamer Kutty Abba, even though Irfan Zakaria could also play there.

So with three players fighting for two spots, Azzizan stands a good chance to continue to get minutes with the national team in a competitive environment, something that would do his chances of making it to the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup squad no harm at all.


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