Monday, 19 September 2011

Perak move closer to quarter finals after beating Sabah

The Perak reserves showed they can be counted on in times of need.

With five regulars – skipper Shahrulnizam Mustapha, Akmal Rizal Rakhli, Syazwan Roslan, Azmeer Yusoff and Nazril Nourdin – slapped with a seven-match ban each for being involved in a fracas with Sabah at the TLDM Stadium in Lumut on May 19, Perak were staring at an early exit in the Malaysia Cup.

The fears proved to be unfounded. On Saturday, the Seladang edged Sabah 2-1 with Mohd Fazrul Hazli and Mohd Failee Ghazali contributing the goals. The win virtually assured Perak of a place in the quarter-finals.

They are now on top of Group A with 10 points from three wins and one draw. Sabah are second on seven points followed by Kedah (four) and Johor (1).

Perak also have the distinction of being one of three teams with an unbeaten record in the 16-team competition. The others are minnows Felda United (Group C) and Kuala Lumpur (Group D).

Perak coach Norizan Bakar was full of praise for his team.

“I must credit the players for a job well done thus far,” said Norizan when contacted in Ipoh yesterday. “With five players out, we were quite worried.

“But the players were unfazed right from the start. They buckled down and went straight to work. I’m really proud of them.”

Norizan, however, warned his charges not to take things easy in their remaining matches.

“We cannot sit on our laurels. We still have some unfinished business. We have two more matches and both of them are away,” said Norizan.

Perak take on Johor at the Larkin Stadium on Sept 24 and then face Kedah three days later at the Darulaman Stadium.

“Mathematically, we need one more point to make the quarter-finals. We hope to get it in Johor. It is too risky to wait until the last match against Kedah,” said Norizan.

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