Saturday, 7 January 2012

Big-spending Armed Forces looking to make waves in Premier League

The buzz in the second–tier Premier League this season is all about the heavy artillery the Armed Forces team have brought into play.

The soldiers have rarely made a name for themselves in the M-League … but all that is set to change under coach B. Sathianathan’s regime.

The former national coach has been given a free hand by his employers to sign up big names in their bid to win promotion to the top flight.

“The objective is clear – the team need to win promotion to the Super League. We are prepared for it but that does not mean it will be a walk in the park. There is hard work ahead and the players have got to live up to their reputations because we are going to be the team to beat this season,” said Sathianathan.

Forces made heads turn when they went on a massive buying spree during the pre-season. Among those hired include national players Mohd Aidil Zafuan, Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak, Mohd Farizal Harun, Azmi Muslim and K. Reuben.

There are also a handful of former internationals led by Rezal Zambery Yahaya and Negri Sembilan’s Malaysia Cup hero Hairuddin Omar.

To top it off, Armed Forces also roped in influential foreign signings – St Vincent and Grenadines’ Marlon Alex James and Argentinian Bruno Martelotto. Both players have had successful stints in the M-League.

Marlon played with MK Land and Kedah, with whom he won the ‘double treble’ in 2007-08, while Bruno featured for the former MPPJ team which won the Malaysia Cup in 2003.

Besides the Premier League, Forces should also make waves in the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup. It won’t be a surprise to see them give the big boys from the Super League a run for their money in these two competitions.

Sime Darby are the other team with high ambitions. They have signed Liberians Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and Sengbah Kennedy and also snapped up Perak’s Razali Umar Kandasamy.

In their maiden season last year, Sime Darby finished fifth out of the 12 teams.

The competition in the Premier League will be stiff with state teams Johor, Perlis and Pahang in the fray.

The other sides in the 12–team league are Police, Harimau Muda B, USM FC, Pos Malaysia, Muar MC, Johor MBJP and newcomers NS Betaria FC.

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