This week we feature Osama Malik in our match day programme, ADLUNITE. To read the full piece, make sure you get a copy at #ADLvWSW!
From humble beginnings in SA, to the biggest stage in Australian football, you could not find a more easy-going, yet supremely dedicated, professional even if you tried.
Just general conversation with him makes it seem like he has the perfect balance of humility and confidence, effortlessly going about his life as if he was a random, unrecognisable person in society. But his profound nest of hair and beaming smile are far too unique to be forgotten easily.
Osama Malik has quality in spades. The South Australian footballer is now regarded as one of the most talented centre-halves in the A-League for his defensive adeptness and immense distribution of the ball.
Carrying through from last season, his versatility and consistency ensures the spotlight remains firmly on him at the heart of the Adelaide United defence. And his man-of-the-match showing against reigning Hyundai A-League Champions, Melbourne Victory, last week saw Malik nullify Besart Berisha, an individual renowned for his indisputable proficiency and tenacity.
His performance was so complete he was voted as part of the A-League’s Team of the Week for Round 1, but asking him about it generates little to no fuss, his modesty as sincere as it comes.
“Personal accolades aren’t going to win you Championships,” Malik said.
“Every single one of our squad is much more focussed on team performances. We don’t look for personal recognition, we want to be recognised as a team.
“They’re nice if they come, but if not, it’s no matter. The team always comes first and the team as a whole is our priority.”
Yet his statistics from last week’s match tell you all you need to know: 100 per cent tackle conversion, three clearances, two interceptions, 83 touches, 71.4 per cent of duels won, 75 per cent of aerial duels won, 79.7 per cent passing accuracy. Dominant.
Perhaps his most outrageous piece of brilliance in the match, though, was in the 60th minute. Berisha was set through on goal, one-on-one on starting debutant John Hall. Malik, with at least five yards to make up, hunted Berisha down like he were prey before lunging into a precarious challenge ten yards from goal.
“It was one of those situations where it could look really good or end up really bad,” he explained.
“Obviously in that position a guy like Berisha can score with ease. My only thought was to smother the ball between his foot and my own to stop him from shooting.
“I timed it well, which is a good thing because, if I hadn’t, we’d have been in trouble and I probably wouldn’t be playing this week.
“But in the heat of it all I wasn’t really thinking about the (consequences) and, as a player, your decision making isn’t always perfect. I just know that I would never go down to make a challenge unless I was completely sure I could win the ball.
“Lucky for us it paid off.”
The full version of this feature is available exclusively in the ADLUNITE match day programme available at the game between Adelaide United FC and Western Sydney Wanderers FC.
Adelaide United will face Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 2 of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season at Coopers Stadium on Friday, 16 October 2015. Kick-off is at 7.10 pm.