Durakovic to continue to entrust Hafizul Hakim as first choice despite JDT blunder

Hafizul Hakim, Gonzalo Soto, PKNS, Perak, Super League, 11/02/17
Vincent Phoon/CSN
Mehmet Durakovic is sticking with Hafizul Hakim and is confident that his horror show against JDT is just part of the learning curve

Mehmet Durakovic has given his thumbs up for goal keeper Hafizul Hakim and will continue to back the youngster in his time with Perak.

This comes after Perak qualified for the quarter final stage of the 2017 Malaysia Cup after a handy 3-1 win over PKNS FC on Saturday. The win ensures that Perak cannot be caught be either of Kuala Lumpur or PKNS, even when there's two round of matches remaining.

Hafizul has come in for a lot of criticism after his error earlier in the week against Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in a Super League match played at Tan Sri Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium. His poor handling of a Safiq Rahim corner kick allowed JDT to equalised early in the second half - a match which JDT went on to win.

The 24-year-old was retained in the starting line-up against PKNS despite that error as Durakovic placed his faith in the keeper.

"We're all human beings and we all make mistakes. We're part of a family. I want to build a family culture here. If I take him out, it will only kill him."

"He's a very very good man. He's a very good goal keeper. He plays for us, he plays for Malaysia. I think Hafizul is a fantastic goal keeper and he has a fantastic future," said Durakovic when asked after the PKNS match.

Hafizul was trusted into the limelight last season as he took over the number one spot at Perak after some encouraging performance. His continued rise was rewarded as he was selected one of the three goal keepers for the ill-fated 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup. Even though he didn't play a single minute in the tournament, it was nevertheless a good experience for him.

A former student at St. Michael's Institution Ipoh, Hafizul continues the earn the trust of Perak coaches, despite the change from Karl-Heinz Weigang to Durakovic. Nelo Vingada was also suitably impressed with Hafizul, that he remains part of the national set-up in the Portuguese's first outing last June.

Against PKNS, Hafizul produced an outstanding one-handed block to deny Bobby Gonzales from close range as he bounced back from the midweek disappointment. Hafizul himself knew that it was a big mistake made against JDT but know as well that he is getting all the help he can get to overcome it, as he mentions in the video above.

The next national team assignment will start in August and if Hafizul can stay on the right path, there's no reason for him not to feel that he warrants another shot at international level.