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Ahmad Zamil Zaqwan Shamsulkama and Muhammad Raiyan Izzan Nurqhaireel Izzuan training under coach Zairuddin Jilan at the Kuantan Municipal field in Kuantan. PIC BY ASYRAF SAWAL

PLAYING in a tournament overseas recently has whetted 12-year-old footballer Ahmad Zamil Zaqwan Shamsulkama’s appetite to turn pro when he grows up.

Barely a month after helping the national team finish third in the Soong Ching Ling Cup in China, the pint-sized midfielder will leave tomorrow for the three-day Yakult Global Cup, which will be held in J-Green Sakai, Osaka, Japan from Saturday.

“The China outing was an eye-opener as I’ve only played in local tournaments previously. Now, having played at a higher level, I want to become a professional footballer.

“Japan are among the big names in world football ... who knows, I might get a chance to play in the J-League one day,” said Ahmad Zamil, who is set to join the Mokhtar Dahari Academy (AMD) under the NFDP next year.

Malaysia will be represented by two teams at the Under-12 tournament in Japan.

One will be Kedah Warriors, who emerged champions in the Grand Finals in Kuala Lumpur in July while the other will comprise players chosen by the selection panel, consisting of coaches from the FA of Malaysia and National Football Development Programme (NFDP).

The Kedah Warriors will compete in the tournament as Malaysian Warriors while the second team will be known as Malaysian Tigers.

Several clubs from Australia, South Korea, Thailand and China will also be taking part in the tournament.

Although Ahmad Zamil’s club did not emerge as champions in the Grand Finals, he managed to impress the selection panel with his skills and goal-scoring ability to earn a call-up to the second team.

And now the Year Six SK Teruntum pupil is looking forward to another new adventure on the international stage.

Another player just as excited to be going to Japan is goalkeeper Muhammad Raiyan Izzan Nurqhaireel Izzuan, who will be making his international debut.

The SK Pengkalan Tentera pupil said he started off as a defender before one of his coaches turned him into a goalkeeper when he was in Standard Four due to his height.

“I am extremely excited to go to Japan. I hope to get the chance to play some quality matches. My coaches told me to cherish this opportunity as it’s not easy to be selected to represent the country,” said Raiyan Izzan, who is the eldest of five siblings and whose favourite player is Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi Roslan.

Meanwhile, Kuantan NFDP coach Zairuddin Jilan, who will accompany both players to Japan, said the duo will be joined by players from around the country.

“This tournament will be a good exposure for the players,” he said.

Last month, Malaysia finished third in the Soong Ching Ling Cup, an annual Under-13 eight-a-side tournament hosted by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the Chinese Football Federation and the Asean-China Centre aimed at promoting friendship and understanding among China and Asean countries.

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