Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Armed Forces targetting promotion to Super League

The Malaysian Armed Forces football team are ready to throw in their challenge in the Premier League and win promotion when the M-League season gets underway next month.

Armed Forces have drawn up massive plans to launch their assault and possibly spring surprises in the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup.

They have "rebranded" themselves with a massive recruitment drive which has created a lot of interest. In fact, Armed Forces are the talk of the opposition.  

The Malaysian Armed Forces FA started the ball rolling by hiring former national team and national Under-23 coach B. Sathianathan as the new head coach.

The Negri Sembilan-born Sathianathan, who is also team manager, has been given a free hand to sign players and handpick the team.

"It does not matter where you play in the league. What you need is quality and I have got the players who can bring depth to the team to achieve our first target ... to gain promotion," said Sathianathan.

The coach also confirmed the team will go on a three-match playing tour of Myanmar.

And in the Malaysian Armed Forces stable are some of the big names of local football.  They have landed five from newly crowned Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan, Radzak twins -- internationals Mohd Aidil Zafuan and Mohd Zaquan Adha, striker Hairuddin Omar, defender Irwan Fadzli Idrus and goalkeeper Farizal Harun.

Rezal Zambery Yahya from Johor FC, who played for Negri from 2005 to 2010, has also joined the team.

It does not stop there. Fitri Omar from Muar Municipality, who was the Premier League's top scorer last season, Christie Jayaseelan (from PKNS), A. Varathan (Sime Darby) plus two players who represented the country in the World University Games 2011 in Shenzen -- K. Reuben (UKM) and Amiridzwan Taj Tajudin (UiTM) -- will also don Armed Forces colours. 
The team are further strengthened with two foreigners, who are not new to the M-League.

St Vincent striker Marlon Alex James, 35, helped Kedah clinch a treble in 2007 and 2008 while midfielder Bruno Sebastian Martelotto, 29 was the ace in the pack when MPPJ FC became the first club to win the Malaysia Cup in 2003.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the man behind the "rebranding" which in fact began in 2010, never gave up hope of seeing a strong Armed Forces team that could challenge the best in the country.

"With eight players from Super League teams and two foreign players who established themselves as players of calibre, I am confident Armed Forces will be able to achieve the target of a top two finish in the Premier League," said Zahid at the introduction of the players and the launching of the team's website at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

For Armed Forces chief, General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, who is also president of the Armed Forces FA, the signing of Sathianathan and his two assistants, Kamaruddin Mohd Noor and Shahrin Majid plus goalkeepers coach Abdul Hamid Ramli, has given creditability in building a strong team.

Armed Forces have picked Petaling Jaya Stadium as their home ground for the new season -- replacing Selayang Stadium.

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