(Reuters) - Faiz Subri has been told to demand more free-kick duties by his Penang manager after the shy and humble striker's stunning, swerving set-piece goal in a Malaysian league match won him a cash prize after going viral on social media.
The 25-metre strike in Tuesday's 4-1 win over Pahang has been dubbed the "knuckleball goal" on Twitter and YouTube and has been compared to Roberto Carlos' famous free kick for Brazil against France in 1997.
Some social media users earmarked Faiz as a contender for the 2016 FIFA Puskas award, given to the scorer of the best goal of the year, but the 29-year-old is already being recognized for his remarkable effort.
The Penang government gave him a cheque for 10,000 ringgit ($2,400) for bringing fame and glory to the state and country, while his manager Jacksen Tiago told him to push regular set-piece taker, Argentine Mathias Cordoba, for more opportunities.
"Mathias is the main free-kick specialist. But I've encouraged others, including Faiz, to have a go now and then," the Brazilian coach was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Star newspaper on Friday.
"I noticed that Faiz was often too shy to request for the ball from Mathias during the pre-season friendlies.
"I know what Faiz is capable of from dead-ball situations. I've told him not to be afraid to take free-kicks during matches. It was a fantastic goal and I want him to score more wonderful goals.
"I'm happy for Faiz... he's a disciplined and humble player who deserves all the attention he is getting right now."
The player, uncapped at international level, told local media on Wednesday there was no luck involved in the strike but that it was "not right to compare" his effort with that of "legend" Robert Carlos.
"It is not a fluke... I practise taking shots from free kicks. I am stunned by all the attention after scoring this goal," Faiz said.
"I only came to know of all this attention after my phone kept ringing non-stop."
(Wrting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)