News Singapore Premier League • May 25, 2018
Youngster Naufal comes of age with Young Lions
The 19-year-old marked his first professional start with a goal against Albirex Niigata FC (S)
Naufal in action against Brunei DPMM FC.
SINGAPORE, 25 MAY 2018 – The scoreboard at the Jalan Besar Stadium flashed 90 minutes and 3-0 to Albirex Niigata FC (S). The final whistle was moments away and the Young Lions had nothing to show for despite producing an encouraging display against the two-time defending league champions.
Then, Hami Syahin played a perfect through ball with the outside of his right-boot to release Naufal Azman and the 19-year-old calmly finished from a tight angle to net on his first start as a professional.
“It was a really proud moment for me and I was really happy to have scored on my first start in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) but it (the joy) only lasted for a short while as we lost the game,” he told the SPL website.
The striker then bagged his second goal in as many games three days later when he scored the winner to seal a 2-1 comeback against Hougang United FC.
“I go into every game with an aim to score and help the team with the best of my abilities,” he said. “I pray and believe that God will always guide me.”
Naufal made his Young Lions debut against Hougang United FC.
LIVE AND BREATHE FOOTBALL
It might have been God’s plan after all for Naufal to become the player he is today and the youngster has attributed his rise to his father.
“I started (playing) football ever since I could walk,” he recalled. “My dad was a football player himself so he would always play with me and I ended up loving the sport. I’ve always dreamt of playing at the highest level ever since the age of eight.
“My dad played a huge part in developing me as a player so I look up to him.”
“I watch videos of elite footballers, learn a thing or two from their games and instil them into mine,” he added, citing the examples of Brazilian legend Ronaldo, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Spanish World Cup winner Fernando Torres and Liverpool frontman Roberto Firmino.
Naufal’s love for football was what kept him going when he suffered a long-term injury lay-off at just 15.
“I tore my right knee meniscus and required an extensive surgery that kept me out for seven months. It actually happened during training when, instead of shooting the ball; I completely missed it and hit the ground.”
The thought of giving up never entered his mind though: “Not at all, I only thought of recovering as fast as I could and get back to football.”
Naufal scored his first ever professional goal against Albirex
BACK WITH A BANG
Four years on from that unfortunate episode, Naufal has gone from strength to strength. Before making his debut for the Young Lions in April this year, he was capped at Under-23 level a month earlier against Indonesia.
“It was a great moment because there are not many opportunities to play on an international level and to don the national jersey,” he said.
“I was with coach Fandi (Ahmad) at the U-20 development squad last year when he said that he would like to sign me as a Young Lions player (for this year).
“I’m proud and overjoyed to have made my professional debut. I believe that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Age does not play a part in (how well you can play) football.”
Blessed with pace and possessing a keen eye for goal, Naufal knows exactly what he needs to work on in order to become a “more complete player”.
“I would like to improve my touches, my physique, my strength and my link-up play,” he said. “I’m comfortable with playing anywhere in the attacking department but I prefer (the role of a) striker.”
Now a key member of the Young Lions squad, he wants the team to fight for glory.
“I want to play overseas in the future if I have the chance but for now, I look forward to a strong season with the Young Lions and challenge for the title,” he asserted.
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