Eight years after lifting their first ever AFF Suzuki Cup trophy, Malaysia are back in the final and ready to taste success for a second time. While most of the players from their 2010 Cup-winning team have moved on with new emerging talent taking their place, there are a couple of members of the old guard still present in the current squad.
FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the two Malaysian players who were part of the 2010 squad and are eager to lift their second title this time around:
Khairul Fahmi was Malaysia’s hero in the 2010 edition of the competition. Initially considered a backup to Sharbinee Allawee, he was forced to watch Malaysia’s first game against Indonesia from the sidelines. However, after Sharbinee let through five goals, Khairul was thrown into the mix.
A clean sheet in his first game, against Thailand, meant he retained his spot for the subsequent games and he repaid the management’s faith, putting in stellar displays between the sticks.
He was solid as a rock in both legs of Malaysia’s semifinal against Vietnam, not allowing a single shot to get past him.
Another clean sheet in the first leg of the final against Indonesia (a game they won 3-0) meant Khairul and co. were just one game away from history.
The then 21-year-old saved his best for last though, keeping out Firman Utina’s penalty in the early stages of the second leg to help his side to a first-ever title.
Khairul’s consistency over the years has meant he has remained in Malaysia’s scheme of things. After being named in the 2018 Suzuki Cup squad as well, Khairul started his nation’s first three games – against Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam – however, he could not repeat his heroics from 2010 and was replaced by Farizal Marlias after a few shoddy displays.
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha
In an amazing coincidence, Norshahrul Idlan scored Malaysia’s opening goal in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign, and also managed the feat in 2018. While his side crashed to a heavy 5-1 defeat at the hands of Indonesia in 2010, they did not suffer the same fate this time around, sweating to a 1-0 win against Cambodia.
Norshahrul did not have the greatest of tournaments in 2010: he managed just two goals in total, but with Malaysia ending up lifting the trophy, he would surely have not complained.
2018 has been a whole new story though. Norshahrul has already netted five times, including the crucial second away goal against Thailand in the semifinal which propelled his side into the final.
He will be looking to add to his tally when Malaysia take on Vietnam in the final, and lift his second Suzuki Cup trophy.