BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Ex-Malaysia international Juzaili Samion is understandably a happy man, after his side UKM FC trounced Sarawak 5-1 in their Group A opening match on Tuesday, in the first ever edition of the Challenge Cup.
However, his elation is due to more than just the emphatic manner of the victory.
It was his first ever match as head coach, albeit in a caretaker role, since hanging up his boots at the conclusion of the 2017 season. Following his retirement, he was appointed as assistant head coach, helping head coach Sulaiman Hussin guide the club in their debut season in the Premier League this year.
After the league competition ended a little over a week ago with the Varsity Boys securing a stay in the second tier, Sulaiman took a one-week break and Juzaili was given the rein going into the Challenge Cup. Sulaiman was present in the stands on Tuesday, and told Goal that he will return to his duties on the following day.
In the match that was held at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium, all five of the hosts' goals were scored by Nigerian striker Michael Ijezie (4', 47', 55', 59', 64'), while the visitors' only goal was scored by Dzulazlan Ibrahim in the ninth minute.
When met by the press after the match, Juzaili was all smiles.
"Praise Allah and congratulations to the players for fulfilling their responsibilities well today. Sulaiman had been in Australia for the past week and I was tasked with taking over temporarily from him. I simply continued what he had implemented, and am happy that I have succesfully performed what was required of me.
"It was a tough game, considering that out of the two league matches between the two teams previously, we won at home and lost away to them. I'm glad that the boys were able to convert most of the chances they had, and to come away with a win," remarked the 37-year old.
When asked by Goal whether he harbours any dream of taking a more front and centre role as a head coach, he responded:
"This is my first competitive match being entrusted with the role of head coach, when previously I was a player. I take it very seriously.
"This is my career, God willing, if it's meant to be, I'll be there," said the former Pahang and Sime Darby player with a resolute smile.
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