ASC2018: Sumareh the Malaysian hope in AFF Suzuki Cup

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Born in Fajara, Gambia, 24-year-old Mohamadou Sumareh has no blood ties to Malaysia.

However, he proudly shows off his “blue identity card” that he is now a true Malaysian with a bit of history as the first naturalized Harimau Malaya in the 12th edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The premier Asean football tournament kicks off on Thursday with Malaysia hoping for a winning start at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh in their opening Group B match against Cambodia.

Sumareh created some minor “riots” back home in Gambia when he chose to switch his alliance to his new country.

The fleet-footed Pahang striker has made an instant hit with Malaysia with three goals in three international ‘A’ matches.

He started with a brace in the 4-1 win over Sri Lanka in Colombo on Oct 12 but failed to find the net in Malaysia’s 1-0 defeat to Kyrgyzstan at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka on Oct 16. Sumareh, however, scored another brilliant goal in Malaysia’s 3-0 win over the Maldives at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil on Nov 3.

His impressive start to the call-up saw him earn a place in coach Tan Cheng Hoe’s final 23-player squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup. Hopes are high on Sumareh who has adapted well to the Malaysian style of playing after being in the country since the age of 12 and has plied his football trade with Perlis, Police, and Pahang in the Malaysia Football League.

At the same time pressure is mounting on him to prove his worth. The son of a Gambian business tycoon, Sumareh, however, has taken all in his stride and is ready to deliver.

“Football is not an individual game. It is a team game and team glory. I am ready to play my part to deliver. Malaysia is my country and I am raring to go and make an impact.

“Malaysia has achieved success with an all-local outfit in 2010. As a ‘Malaysian’ now I am excited to bring glory to my country,” says the affable Sumareh, who could be Malaysia’s hero in Phnom Penh to kickstart the AFF Suzuki Cup journey. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH

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