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Luqman feels at home in Kortrijk

By Md Fariq

THE city knew about his coming, and striker Luqman Hakim Shamsudin knows he has to impress its football team — KV Kortrijk (KVK).

When his Covid-19 quarantine in Belgium expires tomorrow, the young Malaysian striker can’t wait to train with his new club.

Since Luqman’s arrival in Kortrijk a week ago, there has been much interest about the Malaysian footballer with over a million tweets about him registered in the Belgian social media.

Luqman has introduced himself to the club’s fans as KVK’s new signing on Twitter and said he hopes to meet them soon.

The 18-year-old quickly drew attention after KVK deemed it fit for Luqman to wear the No 9 jersey, traditionally reserved for the top striker in a football team.

And the Kortrijk fan club have already started making phone casings with Luqman’s image.

Luqman, who flew to Brussels on Thursday last week, said he looks forward to opening an exciting new chapter in his career when he finally joins Kortrijk for training.

And Malaysian fans will be eager to follow Luqman’s progress in the Belgian first division after he signed a five-year contract with Kortrijk, owned by Berjaya Group founder, Tan Sri Vincent Tan.

Tan said he has been following Luqman’s progress through his club’s management.

“He is being taken care of well there at the moment.

“He passed the first test (Covid-19) and now we shall focus on the second test this week and once okay, he can start training,” added Tan.

After Luqman landed in Belgium, he was welcome by officials from the Malaysian Embassy and KVK before being tested for Covid-19 and driven to Kortrijk, about 90 minutes away, in the Flemish province of West Flanders.

He was put under quarantine at an apartment provided by the club.

Luqman told Timesport he has been taking in the atmosphere in Kortrijk and getting used to the local conditions.

“I am in semi-quarantine here. I went for a walk to get to know places in Kortrijk,” said Luqman yesterday.

“The distance from the apartment to the stadium is only five minutes away.

“For now, I am enjoying the area nearby with breakfast of bread, eggs and spaghetti.

“My quarantine period will end this Thursday after eight days. I will do another Covid-19 test before I am allowed to train with the team.

“I won’t say I’m not nervous when I train with KVK for the first time. But at the same time, I am eager to prove myself.”

Arrangements have been made for the teenager to live with a Belgian “foster family” while he works on carving out a successful football career in Europe.

Luqman, who hails from Kota Baru, said he met with his “foster family” in Kortrijk yesterday.

“I am very grateful because they warmly accepted me and made me feel welcome.

“This will make it easier for me to settle down and focus on my football. The local people here are also friendly and helpful.

“I will be moving in with my ‘foster family’ once I am cleared of Covid-19,” he added.

Luqman is staying with a Belgian family and not a Malaysian family in Kortrijk because it is felt that he will really get to learn to be a professional player by adapting to the local culture, on and off the field.

Luqman will get to improve his communication skill, by speaking English with his “foster family”, and this will certainly be of help when on the field with his Belgian coaches and teammates.

* Md Fariq is a freelance writer

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