Friday, 2 December 2011

Big spending Armed Forces lures players from Negeri Sembilan

Apparently even being Malaysia Cup champions is not enough for Negri Sembilan to hang on to their big name players with Premier League big spenders Armed Forces the main culprits in luring five of their stars away.

Negri's Malaysia Cup hero Hairuddin Omar is the latest to be seduced by cash-rich Forces, who after decades of under-achievement have serious ambitions this time around following their hiring of former national coach B. Sathianathan.

Hairuddin joins  Radzak twins Aidil Zafuan and Zaquan Adha, full-back Irwan Fadzli Idrus and goalkeeper Farizal Harun in dumping Azraai Khor Abdullah's Negri to join Forces, whose only claim to fame is making the 1966 Malaya Cup final and winning the FAM Cup in 1997, while Ahmad Fakri Saarani is reportedly going to Felda United.

Armed Forces FA has apparently been promised a RM10 million budget with a target to win the Premier League title and gain promotion to the Super League.

Flush with new-found cash, Forces have gone on a recruitment drive and besides the Negri five, they have also roped in playmaker Rezal Zambery Yahya from Johor FC and former Police and Selangor President's Cup defender Reuben Kathiripillai, who famously tackled the referee in the national team's 5-0 defeat to Australia recently.

Additional signings can be expected ahead of the Tuesday deadline for registration of players while all the newcomers could be on display tonight when Forces play Perak in a friendly while Negri have shown that the departed players will not be missed after beating Super League champions Kelantan 3-1 in a friendly in Paroi on Wednesday.

Indeed, skipper Shukor Adan believes Negri have capable replacements after signing 28-year-old Cameroon striker Jean-Emmanuel Effa Owona from Hatta Club Dubai and Brazilian striker Marquen Goncalves Ferreira  in addition to locals Norismaidham Ismail and Nazrin Nawi from Kuala Lumpur and the promotion of several promising President's Cup players.

  Owona scored against Kelantan while Ferreira, 28, impressed Azraai with his defensive ability despite his signing being a risk after the Brazilian emerged from eight years of retirement following a serious injury during a 2003 spell with Japanese club Vegalta Sendai.

"Obviously, when a team lose that number of senior players it will be felt. But in football, players coming and going is nothing new and we have to accept the fact that they have left.

"I'm not too concerned about it because we still have good players in the team and with the two new foreign players, two more from KL coming in and with new talent emerging from our President's Cup team, I think we have capable replacements," said Shukor, 32, after joining a clinic for the Soccergurus Football Academy in Bandar Kinrara yesterday.

Shukor, a grizzled veteran with four Malaysia Cup winners medals including two in the last three seasons with Negri, said Azraai will be able to get the best out of the current Negri side in their push for a title next season.

"I don't see the coming and going of players changing our intention to fight for honours. We might have more younger players this time but if we play as a team and follow the coach's instructions, we'll be fine.

"As for myself, for as long as these legs can still carry me, I will continue playing. Whether I finish my career with Negri, I don't know. If they still want me, then I'm thankful.

"I think I've got another three more years in me and then I'll call it quits," said Shukor, who has a year remaining on his contract with Negri, the team he began his career with in 2000 before seven seasons with Selangor from 2002 to 2008.

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