Monday, March 29, 1999

Mail order (The Malay Mail)

IT has taken Mohamad Imran Ahmad a long time to realise his dream of
playing in the M-League. But it has been worth the wait as he has gained
first choice status in his debut season with Kuala Lumpur.
The 24-year-old Imran has played in both KL's matches and, judging from
his performance, is expected to make the leftback slot his own.
But it took all of six years and much heartbreak before Imran made the
grade. Each season he tried, but each time he was turned away by the M-
League teams he had trials with.
Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Penang and even KL were not interested in the
eager youngster.
It was left to the Malay Mail FC to provide him with the platform to
hone his skills and improve his game until he finally got his long-awaited
The Malay Mail first picked Imran when he was 16 years old for their
Under-18 team.
Imran progressed to the senior team a year later and played for them
until 1998.
Indeed, he had tremendous exposure with the newspaper team and would
have easily notched 500 matches in the six years with them.
Besides the Dunhill League and national level FAM Cup, he played for
Malay Mail in several international matches in the Philippines, Thailand
and Singapore.
Sabah coach Ken Shellito had been impressed enough to want to sign Imran
after seeing him in action against the Rhinos in a friendly match in Kota
Kinabalu last year.
But KL beat him to it.
Luck had a hand in Imran, nicknamed Along, making the first XI in his
very first match with KL.
Ahmad Faisal Abdul Aziz, who was the regular leftback, left suddenly to
join Premier Two side Malacca Telekom, and KL coach Mat Zan Mat Aris threw
Imran into the fray.
Earlier, Imran was supposed to have been the backup for Faisal or left
midfielder Amir Nor Hakim Burhan.
Imran convinced Mat Zan of his worth in the very first match against
Brunei which KL won 4-3 away.
"He has done well. And if he keeps up his performance, the position
certainly belongs to him," said Mat Zan.
But Imran is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, knowing only too
well how difficult it was for him to break into the M-League ranks.
The last thing he wants to do now is jeopardise all that he has worked
so hard to earn by getting complacent or big-headed.
"I still have a long way to go," said the Cheras lad. "I am enjoying
every minute of it and intend to improve with each passing match."
KL's gain has been the Malay Mail FC's loss as they did not receive any
compensation for grooming him all these years.
Besides Imran, Malay Mail also lost S. Saravanan and K. Hemadass to KL
and N. Suresh to Malacca Telekom.
KL are riding high after two matches despite having many newcomers in
the side. But their real test comes tomorrow when they play League
champions Penang at KLFA Stadium.
A good outing against Penang will definitely confirm that Imran has
finally arrived.

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