Monday, 30 January 2012

Terengganu and Perak chasing unbeaten Kelantan for Super League title

The Super League title race is fast developing into another East Coast affair but not if Perak have anything to say about it while the situation at the bottom is getting just as heated. 

Amidst revolt by their fans, Kedah caretaker coach Nidzam Adzha Yusof quit after just five games in charge in the first coaching casualty of the season, leaving his side second-from-bottom and with just one goal scored all season.

Defending champions Kelantan, however, are serenely leading the standings by a point from Terengganu and Perak, who both claimed precious away wins, after strolling to a 3-0 win over Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Coach Peter Butler did not broach the subject of retaining their title but heaped praise on his side who remain unbeaten after the Charity Shield defeat to Negri Sembilan.

"The players showed good understanding and teamwork and I told them the day before the game that we had to start well and maintain a high tempo and spirit. I'm glad they did that," said Butler after the game.

KL kept Kelantan at bay for the first half in large part due to the heroics of goalkeeper Amirul Abu Seman, who was making his Super League debut, but Kelantan's quality told in the second half as Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Badhri Radzi with a delightful free-kick and Dennis Antwi grabbed the goals.

It left the city team rooted to the bottom of the standings with just one point and relegation after three seasons in the top-flight a real possibility.

"We tried to rise to the occasion but we failed to take our chances. The pressure really begin to tell when conceded the second and third goals, which were mostly due to our own mistakes," said KL coach Razip Ismail, whose side came closest to scoring when an Afiq Azmi effort hit the post before half-time.

Perak had a bit of luck when Khairan Ezuan Razali turned a cross into his own net as Felda United were beaten 2-1 in Malacca while Terengganu kept alive their own title ambitions as Francis Doe scored the winner in a 1-0 triumph over LionsXII in Singapore, leading coach Mat Zan Mat Aris to sing the Liberian's praises.

"That was his fourth goal in three games but this team is not all about Francis. He has made an important contribution with his ball control and ability to beat his opponent and score out of nothing.

"He was heavily marked against Lions but still scored the winner although we do have other players who have contributed as well. It's a team sport and all the players have a role to play not just Francis," said Mat Zan during a brief stopover in Kuala Lumpur en route to Kuala Terengganu yesterday.

Kedah, meanwhile, have put Radhi Mat Din in charge after Nidzam said he wants to return to coaching the President's Cup squad following a 3-1 defeat to Johor FC in Alor Star.

Protests by hundreds of Kedah fans continued after the game calling for the head of team manager Datuk Khazali Din, who again reiterated his refusal to bow to popular demand.

"There's no reason for me to quit, it's up to the management to decide. As long as nothing untoward happens, they can continue to protest," Khazali told RTM on Saturday.

Radhi led a revival of fortunes when he took temporary charge of Kedah last year after Azraai Khor Abdullah was sacked and his first game in command will be a trip to Malacca to face KL in a bottom-of-the-table clash on Feb 8.

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