Malaysia striker Shahrel Fikri is fired up to get off the mark in national colours when the Harimau Malaya take on Chinese Taipei (September 7) and Cambodia (September 10) as part of the AFF Suzuki Cup warm-up friendlies.
Shahrel has returned from Thai League 1 side Nakhon Ratchasima to lend his services to the national team, and he is eager to impress as quickly as possible.
“The aim is for me to be in the first 11, and I want to score my first goal for Malaysia in these two matches,” Shahrel told FOX Sports Malaysia.
“I want to do well for Malaysia to build my reputation in Thailand as well.”
The 23-year-old is loaned out by PKNP FC to the Thai side until the end of the year.
Since joining Nakhon in June, Shahrel has already featured several times and recently scored in a league cup tie against Ranong United.
The Perak-born, who impressed Nakhon after scoring nine times for PKNP this season, admits he has yet to hit full stride in Thailand.
“The Thai league is competitive and the pace is faster. I don’t play as a centre forward, I operate mainly on the wings. I’m still adapting there, but I am having fun and hope to do better.”
A good performance for Malaysia will certainly elevate Shahrel’s status when he returns to Thailand.
With Norshahrul Idlan Talaha pulling out of the squad due to family emergency, the door looks open for Shahrel to start against Chinese Taipei.
He could be used by national head coach Tan Cheng Hoe as a solitary centre forward, or on the flank to support Zaquan Adha.
Either way, Malaysia will be seeking to for a much needed morale boosting win against the Taiwanese.
Should they win, it will be only their third success of 2018, having beaten Bhutan 7-0 and Fiji 1-0.
After these two friendlies, Malaysia will play Sri Lanka (October 12), Kyrgyzstan (October 16) and Maldives (November 3).