PETALING JAYA: National Under-23 striker S. Kumaahran is confident his training stints with Brazilian giants Cruzeiro will give him the edge for a spot in the final 20-man squad for the Singapore SEA Games from May 30-June 15.
The Penangite caught the eye of a Cruzeiro scout and was offered trials in 2011 and 2012, but their interest in the youngster fizzled out. On his return, Kumaahran joined the Penang President’s Cup team in 2013.
The Butterworth-born player was later called up to join the Harimau Muda C squad in 2014 and was soon fast-tracked to the Harimau Muda A team to play in this year’s S-League. He also helped the national Under-22 team win the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh in February.
The 19-year-old Kumaahran said the stints with Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte was an eye opener and made him a better player.
“I think they lost interest in me as they didn’t contact me after that. But I’m still thankful for the opportunity as I returned home with a richer experience.
“I might be a newcomer to the Under-23 team, but my target is to make the final squad for the Games. It won’t be easy but I have learned that hard work always pays off,” he added.
However, it’s easier said than done as the fleet-footed Kumaahran has to jostle with six other strikers – Mohd Ferris Danial, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, Mohd Arip Amiruddin, Mohd Faizat Ghazli and Muhd Syafiq Ahmad – to make the final squad.
“Rozaimi and Syahrul have been regulars and have won the SEA Games gold medal before but I’m not fazed,” said Kumaahran.
“I have nothing to lose because I’m the youngest striker in the team. I’m still eligible to play in the next two Games. I’ll just work hard to impress the coach (Ong Kim Swee).”
by K. Rajan - The Star