AFF Suzuki Cup, Featured, Football

Does Darren Lok give Malaysia a different dimension? Matt Davies explains why

It was a real enigma, wasn’t it?

He barely played two or three competitive football matches for JDT II, and all of a sudden, Darren Lok was being drafted in for Malaysia’s AFF Suzuki Cup squad. The JDT set-up visibly rate him highly, but Datuk Ong Kim Swee was equally convinced that Darren would give Malaysia something different in attack.

But fans couldn’t see him train, and they were never able to see him play. So their skepticism was understandable. It gets more comprehensible when you recall Darren’s lackluster performance against Singapore back in September.

Photo Credit: Astro Awani
Photo Credit: Astro Awani

Fortunately, the enigma was resolved after Malaysia’s 2-1 win over Papua New Guinea yesterday as the English-born striker proved his criticis wrong with a lively performance. And his teammate Matt Davies was absolutely delighted to see him do just that.

“He has worked really hard on the pitch. Everyone was quick to jump on his back when he started off slowly, but Darren just kept working on the field. I see him in training everyday and it’s great to see the determination he offers, you know,” Matt told at the launching ceremony of Nike’s brand new kit for the Malaysian national football team

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Darren was handed a spot in Malaysia starting XI and he looked incredibly active on the pitch, using his pace to consistently put pressure on Papua’s defence. His persistence paid handsome dividends as the former Eastbourne Borough man won a spot-kick for Malaysia, merely two minutes into the second half. The spot-kick was converted by Amri and it turned out to be the winning goal as Malaysia secured a 2-1 victory.

Photo Credit: Instagram (Matt Davies)
Photo Credit: Instagram (Matt Davies)

It didn’t take long for fans to flood on Twitter with gracious comments on Darren’s performances, with a majority of them claiming that the JDT II man offers Malaysia a different dimension in attack. In fact, it’s something Davies himself completely concurs with and he went on to explain why.

“I think most Malaysian strikers prefer to receive the ball at their feet, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that with Darren, he is equally fine with having long through balls played over him. He’s always chasing these balls so that gives us a different attacking outlet to the strikers we already have.

“For instance, there was a point in the game yesterday where a long ball was played towards the corner flag. But he continued chasing the ball, which in return forced the goalkeeper to clear it away and gift us a throw in. This is an example of what he can and will provide for us.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

While Darren’s performance was encouraging, Malaysia’s overall display didn’t do too much to brew optimism amongst fans. Davies understands the sense of gloom that’s being associated with the national squad but he wants fans to stand behind the team and claims that every single player is motivated to go gung ho when the Suzuki Cup gets underway this weekend.

“Of course, it’s fair for them to feel disappointed. And I do think it will be difficult. But all I can tell fans is that I hope they stand behind the team. As far as I’m concerned, I want to be in the starting eleven and play every game. And I know every player in the squad wants that as well, which is a very positive thing.

“There’s no point in any of us being here, if we don’t want to play and do well in every game. So while it may be difficult, I can promise that we’ll be doing our very best in the tournament,” he added.

What are your thoughts on Darren Lok and Malaysia’s chances at the AFF Suzuki Cup? Let us know by commenting below!

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