Versatile Hafiz boon to LionsXII

SINGAPORE - A nippy winger, an industrious full-back and a tenacious defensive midfielder. Three very different footballing roles, but all can be filled with some aplomb by the same person in the LionsXII team - Hafiz Sujad.

While most of the spotlight has been on striker Khairul Amri and captain Isa Halim, it is Hafiz's understated versatility that has been a vital factor behind the LionsXII's encouraging start this Malaysian Super League (MSL) season.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the 2-2 away draw with big-spending Johor Darul Takzim on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old started the game as the left-winger, switched midway to left-back to cover for injured Shakir Hamzah and left the pitch as a hero after grabbing the second-half equaliser.

No wonder then that coach Fandi Ahmad described his charge as a "priceless and selfless" member of the MSL champions.

The former national captain said: "I know that, wherever I put Hafiz, he never complains and gets the job done for me.

"Utility players like him are every coach's dream, but they sometimes don't get recognised for having a football brain."

In the case of Hafiz, the Beautiful Game runs in his blood.

Not only can he count Fandi as a cousin, but fellow Malaysia Cup legend Mohamed Noh is also his uncle, while father Abu Sujad was a former national left-back. Elder brother Nadzi also played professionally in the S-League.

Hafiz himself had skippered the Courts Young Lions in 2012, after being left out of the inaugural LionsXII squad.

Nowadays, he is considered a mainstay for club and country, even though his position remains in flux.

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