Monday, 16 January 2012

Two goal Ahmad Shakir Ali helps Negeri Sembilan beat Johor FC

The notion that Negeri Sembilan are overly reliant on Jean-Emmanuel Owona was debunked by Ahmad Shakir Ali with two goals in a 2-0 win over Johor FC on Saturday.

Owona had scored all four of Negeri's goals in their two matches ahead of the Super League tie in Pasir Gudang, leading to talks  that Negeri had no other alternative to the Cameroonian.

But Shakir, who struggled to impress in the Charity Shield win over Kelantan and the 2-2 opening league draw against Selangor, took centre stage on Saturday with a brilliant brace.

Shakir, once very much in the plans of national coach K. Rajagobal, scored the first with a smart volley before  latching on to Owona's flicked header to fire in the second.

Negeri coach Azraai Khor Abdullah praised his side for a performance that brought them a first league victory and achieved without injured duo Shukor Adan and Idris Karim.

"The players brought us a beautiful away win tonight (Saturday)," said Azraai after the match.

"After the Charity Shield and Selangor games,  people said we depended too much on Owona but the young players in the team today rose to the challenge to prove them wrong.

"We had been suffering from a few injuries, especially to Shukor and Idris, whose absences have been really felt.

"But we did our best to get the three points and I was also able to throw on two more young players towards the end.

"With a long season ahead, we need to give the younger ones a chance because we have  two missions, to collect points and develop players," added Azraai, who will be looking for a second win when Negeri meet Perak in Ipoh tomorrow.

Johor FC coach K. Devan rued his side's inability to capitalise on the chances his all-local side created as Negeri goalkeeper Farizal Marlias proved a tough man to beat.

"We created a lot of chances but we lacked the finishing touch. It's an area we need to improve on but I am happy with the way we played and the determination of the players.

"In the second half, we chased for the equaliser but Negeri's second goal changed the game.

Even when we were trailing 2-0, we still had a number of chances but just couldn't score," said former Selangor coach Devan, who takes his side to Kota Baru to face league champions Kelantan next.

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