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M'sian Super League: In the line of fire

The New Paper | Ali Kasim | Thursday, Feb 13, 2014

LionsXII central midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin at a training session.

SINGAPORE - As he walked towards the team bus after the LionsXII's 0-0 draw with Terengganu last Saturday, Zulfahmi Arifin heard the fans chant.

"Balik (Go home in Malay) Zul," were some of the milder cries that rang out at the North Entrance of the Jalan Besar Stadium. It was painful, because it came from fans of the LionsXII.

Speaking to The New Paper on Monday, the midfielder claimed he had read worse comments online.

"I've noticed on social media sites that whenever the LionsXII have a bad game, my name and Isa's (Halim) get mentioned.

"I don't want to say what the fans write, but they're basically criticising our performances."

Zulfahmi is a man under pressure.

The 22-year-old has been below par in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) this season.

The champions are in ninth spot in the 12-team competition after four games and travel to ATM in Selangor for a game on Saturday.

Zulfahmi, the playmaker with the sweet left foot, is not sure if he will start this time.

In the Terengganu game, he had another outing to forget as he struggled to impose himself in central midfield, rarely getting on the ball in the attacking third.

The playmaker was duly replaced by coach Fandi Ahmad at half-time.

"Of course, I was disappointed when I heard (the heckling) near the bus," said Zulfahmi.

"I knew I had a bad game but that sort of thing never helps a player; it only makes him feel worse that his own fans are shouting at him.

"It's not just the fans, coach Fandi is also expecting a lot from me as well.

"I know, as one of the starters, I need to perform. It's like I'm putting more pressure on myself every game - which is making things harder."

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