September 05, 2016
Lautoka marksman Mohammed Shazil Ali wants more success in his footballing career and has already set his sight on donning the national jumper.
Ali who turns 21 next month was one of the stars for the Blues in the final of the 2016 INKK Mobile Battle Of Giants and scored the first goal in extra time.
Speaking to FijiLive, the former Kamil Muslim College student said it was a dream come true for him when he was selected to represent Lautoka last year but the real transformation and opportunity was granted this season, more particularly at the tournament in Nausori.
“I was in the Fiji U20 training squad but was dropped, maybe because I was not too strong and tall. I never lost hope and when Lautoka selected me to play for them, I made a promise to myself to give my best.”
“I played some games last year and scored goals but this BOG I got my biggest break. After I scored two goals in the first pool match against Labasa, I knew things were going in the right direction for me. Even though I used to come from the bench in the second half, I used to give my best.”
But his luck came about in the grand finale as top striker Ratu Josefata Dugucagi fell ill prior to kick-off and Captain Peni Finau was suspended.
“I was excited to start the final and I knew I had to give my best. I was heavily marked throughout but when the chance came in the extra time I just went for the ball and kicked it as hard as I could. I cannot say anything more or describe how I felt after I scored,” he shyly said.
He added that support from the bench, particularly from head coach Kamal Swamy and Coach Aginesh Prasad encouraged him further.
“Master Kamal was shouting my name every I had the ball and AJ (Aginesh) was also pushing me to give my best. At one time I was down injured and thought I will not continue the game but their encouragement gave me hope and strength and I got up and completed the match.”
Coach Prasad said the youngster has developed well and should be a good addition to the national squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
“He is a very hardworking and disciplined player. He does the hard yards on the field and never gives up. He makes up for short height and built with his work-rate, skills and speed on the field. He is a team player and is well liked by other team mates. He has a bright future and we would love to see him excel further,” Prasad added.
Singh’s Rental sponsored Lautoka defeated Labasa 2-0 in extra time with goals to Ali and replacement Cyrus Singh to clinch the BOG title after a lapse of 30 years at Ratu Cakobau Park.
By Reginald Chandar