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Southeast Asian Games

Syamer counting on improving partnership with Azam to drive Malaysia to gold

7:24 AM SGT 29/8/17
Syamer Kutty, Malaysia U22, 2017 KL SEA Games
Syamer looking to raise his game one last time as Malaysia searches for glory on home soil

It's the final reckoning, one last 90 minutes to determine the SEA Games champions, one final effort to reign supreme and bring home a gold medal. All 40 players and the respective officials on the Malaysian and Thai team will have that playing in their mind ever since they both qualified for the final.

For Malaysia, the journey to progress from the group stage as winners of Group A to defeating Indonesia in the semi-final, there's a sense that Datuk Ong Kim Swee has found the right formula for the team in the 3-4-3 system that has helped the team to the gold medal contention.

Like in any team, the midfield is the hub of the team and for Malaysia, that means Nor Azam Azih and Syamer Kutty Abba. The former has taken in more plaudits than the latter as the tournament progressed mainly because Nor Azam is the more creative of the two and was the toast of the team that came back against Singapore. 

Yet, the presence and importance of Syamer is not one to be discounted. Especially since the Georgetown-born player grab the chance given to him and force himself into the starting XI. It could have all been completely different after he missed the Bangkok assignment in July. 

Amirul Hisyam and Daniel Amier had built up a fantastic partnership and one which helped Malaysia the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship. They were the preferred choice to partner the more experienced Nor Azam in midfield before drop in form allowed Syamer the chance to stake a claim.

"The first thing in my mind when I heard that coach called me back was that one of happiness. It's the second chance that the coach has given me," said Syamer to Goal

The 20-year-old has grown from strength to strength with every passing match and now looks certain to be one of the 11 names that will start the highly anticipated final against mighty Thailand on Tuesday night at Shah Alam Stadium.

"Our relationship [with Nor Azam] and chemistry is improving day by day. Even though we are not in the same team in the Super League, we have been here in this squad for a long period now." 

"Maybe I'm the one that coach decided to put down as the more defensive one. But we are constantly helping each other on the field. He back me up and vice versa," added Syamer.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Syamer right from the start when he got his chance in the second group match against Singapore. He had looked nervous right from kick-off but it's the sign of the mentality of the player that he managed to recover his composure and started to assert himself in the game. 

Playing for Penang in the league at the Batu Kawan Stadium, it was a daunting experience for Syamer to switch from that environment to playing in front of 80,000 people at Shah Alam Stadium. The fans have come out in numbers to support Malaysia and at first, it was a sight that turned out to be a little intimidating for Syamer himself.

"This is one of the happiest moment in my life because I've never experienced it before. I'm really happy and honoured to be in this team. With all the fans watching and cheering for us, it's a big boost for us." 

"It took some time for me to settle time because I've never played in front of such a crowd. But after 10 - 15 minutes, I managed to get my game back and I believe that I'm improving with every passing match and more comfortable with the atmosphere," exclaimed Syamer.

His physicality is one of his main attributes that gives him the advantage when trying to win the ball off the opponent. Syamer has a good touch and control, which isn't typical of a player of his height. He uses those skills to get away in tight situations but at most times, keeps his game simple.

Against Indonesia, he did popped up in the attacking third of the pitch, and was presented with a shooting chance when N. Thanabalan pulled a pass back to him at the edge of the box. Unfortunately that shot hit an Indonesian defender and went out for a corner kick. 

Syamer has yet to score for the team in the tournament but is secretly hoping he can end his drought in the final. The islander is eagerly looking forward to the final but bats away at any suggestion that the Thai team has a hoodoo on Malaysia. He's confident that the team can do one final job and end the tournament on a high.

"It doesn't matter to me [who scores] because I always want the team to win. But I do hope that I can score before the tournament is over." 

"There's nothing to fear of them. This is our home ground, they should be the one fearing us. They are good technically and tactically but we can match up against them. I'm very confident that we can give them a good game in the final," said Syamer.