The training is tough and tiring. But young Petaling Jaya City midfielder K. Thivandaran (pic) is loving every minute of it.
The 20-year-old, who shot to prominence after featuring for Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s national team in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur last year, said experienced players in the team have made training fun with their wisdom and knowledge.
He certainly feels at ease alongside new signing, K. Gurusamy, who was brought in to give the midfield extra bite and creativity.
“Training has been tough because pre-season drills are always tense. We have played four friendly matches so far, and the team are beginning to take shape, “ said Thivandaran, who hails from Penang.
“Coach (K. Devan) has told me I am playing okay so far. But as a player, I cannot take that as assurance of a first-team place. I must work harder and keep moving forward.
“The addition of Guru has also helped me a lot because he teaches me during training. His experience as a national player is invaluable.”
Last season, Thivandaran played 12 matches in the Super League and hopes to feature in more in the new season.
Besides Gurusamy, players like Safee Sali, Mahali Jasuli, R. Barath Kumar and D. Christie Jayaseelan have made quite an impact on Thivandaran in PJ City as he looks to learn and be an asset to the team.
“They are seniors, but they do not neglect the juniors.
“During training, they teach us what to do. Off the pitch, they share advice.
“In the four friendlies, I have partnered Guru in midfield and it is easy to play alongside him. It makes work much easier for me.
“But that does not mean I can lie low. I need to work on my game, too.”
Thivandaran, who is known for his industry and ability to shackle players with his constant pressing, is hoping for a breakout season that may lead to a national call-up in 2020.
He also said Devan‘s tutelage would be key if he wants to succeed.
“During games, he is strict but off the pitch, he can explain plays and movements with ease. Also, he is like a fatherly figure who is always there to help.
“As a player, I want to stay in the first 11 and achieve a respectable finish in the league. Also, I want to wear the black and yellow of the senior national team. I have played for the Under-23 team. Now, it is time to aim big.”