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WC Qualification Asia

Shahrul delighted with Aidil's return to Malaysia's defence

04:58 EAT 01/10/2019
Shahrul Saad, Malaysia, 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup
A new-old partnership could be resumed when Malaysia take on Vietnam in Hanoi on October 10 and Shahrul is more than happy to see a returning partner.

Shahrul Saad and Aidil Zafuan formed a formidable centre back pairing that held Malaysia's defence together enroute to finishing as runners-up of the 2018 AFF Championship after losing to Vietnam in the final last year. The same partnership is likely to be rekindled when ironically Vietnam is the next opponent for Malaysia in the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. 

The 32-year-old Johor Darul Ta'zim player has not been part of the national team squad since that cup final defeat but has been recalled after a sterling season with his club as well as the less than stout combination of Shahrul and Adam Nor Azlin thus far. Shahrul did not hide his delight in seeing the vastly experienced Aidil returning to the team and is already looking forward to play alongside him.

"Me and the other defenders are happy to see Aidil willing to return to the national team. I hope with him in the squad, he can help the team. In terms of experience and what we know he can do, he's very important to the team. 

"As we know, we have not been able to beat Vietnam in the last three matches. But this time is a different game, different year and different spirit. I'm really hopeful that we will work harder to get something from Hanoi. We do not expect the atmosphere to be of any concern, in fact we are already looking forward to play there," said Shahrul on Monday.

Back in September, Malaysia played three matches and were unable to keep a clean sheet in any of those matches conceding one to Jordan, two to Indonesia and two to United Arab Emirates. Both Shahrul and Adam are solid enough centre backs but together, they still lacked sufficient understanding and weren't complimentary as a pairing.

Tan Cheng Hoe will be mulling whether the exisiting partnership has to be broken up for what is a vital encounter at My Dinh Stadium. Fitness permitting, the more experienced Aidil could be asked to do a job in front of an expected sold-out crowd in Hanoi.


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