PETALING JAYA: In just a week, Jordanian winger Mahmoud Al-Mardi has shown that he is a perfect fit for Kedah.
The speedy winger, who just signed for the Canaries, scored a hattrick in Kedah’s 5-1 thumping win over Visakha in their final Group I match of the AFC Cup at Stadion Kapten I Wayan Dipta in Bali on Thursday.
With the win, Kedah top the group and qualified for the AFC Cup Asean zone semi-finals where they will take on Group H winners PSM Makassar on Aug 9.
Al-Mardi, signed from Bahraini club and 2021 AFC Cup champions Al-Muharraq, not only showed great speed and dribbling skills on the left flank but is also a great goalpoacher.
His goals in the 28th and 54th minutes were simple tap-ins as he was able to read the movements of his teammates superbly. And the feather in the cap was his superb free-kick goal from 30 metres out in the 47th minute.
It was his fourth goal in the competition, having also scored in their 4-1 win against the Philippines’ Kaya-Iloilo on June 27.
Al-Mardi now hopes to steer his teammates to his second trophy.
“It’s a crucial game because if we had lost, we would be out. It’s also important because I won last year and I hope to win it with Kedah. I must thank the coach as he has given me the confidence since day one,” said Al-Mardi.
“I’m happy with the hattrick. Those goals were important because it has taken us to the next stage. It was an amazing day for me.
“I can adapt quickly because of the coach and my teammates. They have warmed up to me, giving me the freedom to do well in our matches.”
Coach Aidil Sharin said despite the 0-2 defeat to Bali United in the first game, his boys never gave up on the three things – determination, dedication and discipline.
“They gave their everything and believed in the three Ds and the game plan.
“As for the game, we played two good halves of football. We were consistent and came with a winning mentality. And now we are in the next stage!
“We’ll celebrate the win, recover and then focus on the domestic stage.”