I saw West Ham’s potential in 2019, says Malaysian fan

Afham Abdul Rahman was always into football but did not have a particular favourite club until 2019.

He “sort of liked Arsenal”, but when he saw the players West Ham signed in 2019, he got excited and decided to be a ‘Hammer’. It is a decision he has not regretted, not even once.

The highlight was last season’s Europa Conference League victory, the club’s first major trophy in 43 years. It had won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 1999, but that tournament was a qualifier for the now-defunct UEFA Cup.

“I have been following the EPL (English Premier League) for a long time. I did like Arsenal at one stage, but it was just as a casual supporter,” said the 36-year-old Ipoh lad.

“However, in 2019, I saw how passionate and dedicated the West Ham players were, and coupled with some big signings, I had a feeling they could go far.

“Although at that time, it was nearly 40 years since their last trophy, but I knew David Moyes (manager) was building a special team.”

Among the players West Ham signed in 2019 were Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek, while Jack Wilshere joined a year earlier.

So committed was Afham to West Ham’s cause that he opened a Facebook page to engage with other Malaysian fans.

“I consider myself a newbie. So, I created the Facebook page to get in touch with other West Ham fans in Malaysia,” he said.

“We have over 1,000 followers now. I hope to grow the page further.”

Asked about West Ham’s chances this season, Afham said he would be happy if the club could finish in the Top Six in the EPL and enter the final of the Europa League.

He predicted Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, and Liverpool would finish in the Top Four, with West Ham and Newcastle the favourites to finish fifth and sixth.

He, however, said West Ham needed to sign another striker in the January window as Michail Antonio has been off form.

“I am glad we managed to sign Mohammed Kudus from Ajax. I expected him to join Arsenal but was extremely surprised when we got him,” said Afham.

“But we must sign another striker when the transfer window opens in January.

“The club has spent the money from the Declan Rice sale (to Arsenal) wisely, but we need a little more depth to cover us in case of injuries.

West Ham has started the season well, winning four, and drawing one, of its seven EPL games. It will meet Arsenal in the last 16 of the League Cup, while in the Europa League, it has a maximum six points after two matches.

It plays Newcastle in the EPL on Sunday (9pm).

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)

Luton vs Tottenham (7.30pm)
Fulham vs Sheffield United (10pm)
Burnley vs Chelsea (10pm)
Manchester United vs Brentford (10pm)
Everton vs Bournemouth (10pm)

Crystal Palace vs Nottingham Forest (12.30am)
Brighton vs Liverpool (9pm)
West Ham vs Newcastle (9pm)
Wolves vs Aston Villa (9pm)
Arsenal vs Manchester City (11.30pm)

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