National Team - Lions ● Nov 23, 2018
Set-piece wizard Zulfahmi praises Lions team-mates
SINGAPORE, 22 NOVEMBER 2018 – Needing a big win against Timor-Leste on Wednesday night in their third ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018 Group B match, the Lions went in search of goals right from kick-off.
The attacking approach resulted in a thumping 6-1 win and five of those came from set-pieces, with Zulfahmi Arifin proving to be the chief creator with three assists.
The Chonburi FC playmaker made his first tournament appearance at left-back and his dead-ball prowess came to the fore, first with a corner to the far post for Safuwan Baharudin to break the deadlock on 12 minutes.
Next, he served up a teasing free-kick delivery on 31 minutes that led to Ikhsan Fandi poking in a loose ball to make it 3-1, before another precise corner in the 90th minute found Faris Ramli at the near post for a header to make it five.
It was a masterful display by the 27-year-old with the sweet left peg, but Zulfahmi preferred to pay tribute to his team-mates for converting the chances after the game.
“I’ve played with Safuwan since my time in the Young Lions and NFA (National Football Academy, now FAS Football Academy) and somehow or another, he will be on the end of my balls,” he said.
“I am glad that I have Safuwan, together with Irfan (Fandi) and Hariss (Harun), who will really attack the ball for our set-pieces… the rest of the players that go for set pieces, they really attack the ball, which make my balls look good.”
Zulfahmi, who also provided a set-piece assist each in the friendly wins over Fiji and Cambodia prior to the tournament, expressed delight at the big winning margin.
“I think we went out with an objective and we achieved that, which is very important,” he said. “From the start, regardless (of) when we will score, we just needed that first goal to kick start (things) and I am glad we were patient; even though we wanted to score many goals but we did our discipline and positioning before we attacked.”
While the Lions now have a substantially better goal difference, they still need a result against Thailand in their final group match away to Thailand this Sunday. Victory will seal progress to the semi-finals, while a draw will leave their fate in the hands of Indonesia, who play the Philippines at the same time.
Having plied his trade in the Thai top tier for the past season, Zulfahmi singled out midfielder Sanrawat “Camp” Dechmitr as a key player to shut down.
“I think they are beatable but they are a very good side,” he said. “For the star man Camp… Once we manage to keep a close eye on him, all should be fine because our discipline and tactical discipline has been very good so far.”