Syamer Kutty Abba has emerged as a key player for Malaysia in their run to the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final and the midfielder was quick to pay tribute to the club that helped him chase his dream.
The 21-year-old has seen his stocks rise since joining Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) from Penang FA at the start of the year.
It turned out to be the dream move for the tenacious midfielder as he was sent on loan to Portuguese third division club Vilaverdense together with Dominic Tan, before returning to JDT for the remainder of the season.
2018 became even sweeter for Syamer when he won his first Malaysia Super League title with the Southern Tigers, and was included in Tan Cheng Hoe’s AFF Suzuki Cup plans.
To his surprise, Tan blooded him in the starting lineup and he is now one game away from potentially claiming the region’s biggest prize.
Malaysia go into the second leg of the final in Hanoi on Saturday, having battled to a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Bukit Jalil Stadium on Tuesday.
The Vietnamese ran into a two-goal lead before Syamer’s assist saw Shahrul Saad pull a goal back for Harimau Malaya. A Safawi Rasid free-kick completed the comeback to rekindle Malaysia’s hopes of lifting their second AFF title.
“This was one of the toughest games we had in this tournament. We were two-nil down at home but we fought till the last minute,” Syamer told FOX Sports Asia.
“We didn’t convert the chances well and while I’m not satisfied with the result, I’m really happy with the fighting spirit we showed as a team.
“We lost 2-0 in Hanoi in the group stage but now we are talking about the final. This is a different game altogether and we are just a few steps away from possibly winning the Cup so we have to give our best game there.”
Syamer’s role in the midfield engine room has been one of the bright sparks for the Malaysians and his stats proved that Tan’s decision to go with youth was the right choice.
In the six games he played, Syamer has completed 330 passes, ranking just behind Shahrul Saad who leads the team with 399 passes.
While he is now a vital cog for the national team, Syamer attributes his success to the opportunities he received at club level, as he prepares for the game of his life at My Dinh Stadium.
“This is by far the biggest game of my career. The feeling of playing in front of 90,000 fans on home soil is unbelievable and will go down as one of my sweetest memories in football,” Syamer added.
“My time in Portugal was a real eye opener but I believe, this (Suzuki Cup) is a much higher level and I am using this experience to continue pushing myself as a player.
“The credit must go to my club JDT for helping me in so many aspects. The training sessions at JDT made me a better player and I took all that I learned to the Malaysia camp.
“Now with this experience with the national team, I want to take that, return to JDT and give back to the club on the pitch for everything they gave to me.
“This game in Hanoi is not just any game. This is game I have to give my all for Malaysia, for the fans who have supported us and for JDT.”