Mukhairi Ajmal. Photo: Stadiumastro.com

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no denying that many young players in the country are beginning to make their mark on the game and, perhaps, take Malaysian football to a higher level one day.

Among the many talented youngsters who have shone in local football include the likes of Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, Harith Haiqal Adam Afkar, Muhammad Umar Hakeem Suhar Rezwan, Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi and Muhammad Najmudin Akmal Kamal Akmal.

Now, add Selangor II midfielder Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi, 18, to that illustrious list.

Mukhairi, who hails from Pahang, even captained the national Under-18 team to a runners-up spot in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 tournament, after losing 1-0 to Australia in the final, last year.

The teenager, who seems to almost have the complete package, caught the eye when he made his Super League debut in the Malaysia League (M-League) last season with PKNP FC (now known as Perak II).

The well-built Mukhairi announced his arrival on the big stage when scored a goal for PKNP FC in last year’s Malaysia Cup quarter-final against Kedah.

“When we look at him and the runs he makes, either with or without the ball, it’s like he’s always got a plan in mind,” Perak II coach Abu Bakar Fadzi told Bernama today. 

“It’s hard to find a youngster who seems so much at ease playing against bigger and more experienced opponents. I’m proud to have such a brave youngster like him who never hesitates to make decisions on the pitch,” he added.

Unlike other national Under-18 players who received wide exposure by training at the Mokhtar Dahari Academy (AMD) in Gambang, Mukhairi honed his skills while studying at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Bandar Penawar.

But that hasn’t stopped him from developing his game to such an extent that even coach Abu Bakar can’t stop praising him for his high-level of IQ (intelligence quotient).

“Not only does he have a sturdy physique and the ability to make sprints, he also has a high IQ. Just look at his style of play, he can dictate the game, think on his feet and make good use of the ball.

“He also loves to make runs from the deep to close down the space and steal the ball from his opponents. These are the qualities of a really good player,” said Abu Bakar, adding that these are the types of players coveted by all the teams.

And the 48-year-old coach was proven right when Selangor II snatched the youngster away at the end of last year.

“I felt lost when PKNP FC closed and he joined Selangor II because I saw a lot of potential in him. That’s why I dared to feature him in the Malaysia Cup campaign,” said Abu Bakar, who added that Mukhairi, however, should not be satisfied with what he has achieved thus far and should continue to aim big. – Bernama