Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Kelantan coach Peter Butler resigns after problems with management

Kelantan coach Peter Butler has quit on the east coast side for the second time.

The Englishman’s first stint with Kelantan during the 2008-2009 season also ended prematurely, two weeks before the Malaysia Cup kicked off. Butler left, despite having two more months on his one year contract, to join Myanmar club side Yangon United.

Kelantan signed him on again this season on a two-year contract which lasted all of four months.

Trouble flared up two weeks ago when Butler blasted Kelantan FA (Kafa) for interfering with the selection of foreign players. He openly criticised the management after Kelantan’s 2-1 defeat to Selangor in a Super League match on Feb 14.

Kafa then issued Butler a show cause letter for his outburst, telling the 46-year-old coach to take a break to prepare an official explanation before March 8.

However, at a meeting in Kota Baru yesterday, Kafa and Butler decided to end their contract by mutual agreement. 

The former West Ham midfielder, who received an undisclosed sum in compensation, issued a short statement on his resignation.

“We have mutually agreed to end my contract with Kelantan,” Butler said. “I’m happy that I have left the team on the top of the league.”

Butler has been linked with Persiba Balikpapan of the Indonesia Super League, a club he coached from 2006-2008.

Former UPB-MyTeam FC coach Bojan Hodak is set to take charge of the Super League champions on a temporary basis.

Hodak, who was appointed CEO of the Kafa football academy last Wednesday, will be registered as the assistant coach for the M-League and the AFC Cup.

Kelantan manager Azman Ibrahim said a new head coach would be named soon.

“We will manage without Butler. The players understand the situation. They can and should be able to concentrate on their game,” said Azman.

“We will register Hodak , who has been training the team for the past few days, as the assistant coach.”

Super League leaders Kelantan face a crunch tie against Negri Sembilan in Kota Baru on March 4 . They will also be making their debut in the AFC Cup, playing Navibank of Saigon in Kota Baru on March 7.

The Red Warriors have yet to hit form but still top the table with17 points.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Malaysia to test new players in friendly against Philippines

Five key national players will be missing from Malaysia's first international match of the year against the Philippines at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila tomorrow.

The absence of defenders Aidil Zafuan Radzak, Mahalli Jasuli and Faizal Muhammad, midfielder K. Gurusamy and striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha through injury however provides coach K. Rajagobal with the opportunity to test several uncapped players ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup in November-December.

Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali, midfielder Shahrudin Yakup of Sabah and Young Tigers A winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor are all set to earn their first international cap while Kelantan centre-back S. Subramaniam will make his first appearance in three years.

The national team have been restricted to playing local Super League sides this year, beating Kelantan 5-0 last month and most recently on Friday when Amar Rohidan scored in the 80th minute for a 1-0 win over Sabah in Kota Kinabalu.

"This is our first international match of the year and I'd like to try out some new players as we prepare to defend the AFF Cup," said Rajagobal before the squad left for Manila yesterday.

Pelita Jaya striker Safee Sali, who was restricted to 10 minutes against Sabah due to a calf strain, was deemed fit to travel with the squad though he is expected to be used sparingly.

SQUAD - Goalkeepers: Farizal Marlias, Norazlan Razali, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
Defenders: Bunyamin Umar, Asraruddin Putra Omar, G. Mahathevan, Zubir Azmi, Muslim Ahmad, S. Subramaniam, Fadhli Shas.
Midfielders: Amar Rohidan, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Safiq Rahim, S. Kunalan, Ashaari Samsudin, Shakir Shaari, Shahrudin Yakup, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor.
Forwards: Ahmad Shakir Ali, Manaf Mamat, Zaquan Adha Radzak, Safee Sali.

Felda United players Jaafar and Faudzi suspended for five matches

Felda United’s Mohd Hardi Jaafar and Mohd Firdaus Faudzi have been slapped with a RM5,000 fine each and suspended for five matches by the FA of Malaysia (FAM).

The duo were found guilty of climbing into the grandstand after the 1-0 defeat to Negri Sembilan in a Super League match at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on Jan 21 but were cleared of the second charge of attempting to fight with fans by FAM’s Disciplinary Committee.

Hardi, who was given a final warning for his action, said he accepts the committee’s decision.

“I am glad I did not get a heavier sanction,” said Hardi, after the committee meeting at Wisma FAM yesterday.

“I will continue to train with the team during the suspension.”

The suspensions begin on March 6, leaving the duo out of their Super League match against Singapore Lions XII. Felda United also will have to foot the bill for the committee meeting which totalled RM2,287 after their players were found guilty.

This is Hardi’s second offence. In 2010, Hardi, who was playing for Selangor, was suspended for six matches and fined RM6,000 following several incidents in the semi-final of the FA Cup match against Negri on April 3, 2010.

In the ill-tempered match between Negri and Felda United on Jan 21, referee Azman Jamaludin flashed two red cards during the game and a third after the final whistle.

Azman also handed out eight yellow cards (four per team) and red-carded Felda United’s Farid Ramli and Negri’s S. Kunalan during the game and Hardi after the game.

A fracas broke out as the players clashed after the match and the Negri supporters jeered and threw water bottles at the Felda team as they headed to the changing room.

One bottle hit Felda goalkeeper Mohd Hamsani Ahmad’s face, prompting Hardi and Firdaus to climb into the grandstand to confront the fans.

Hardi said that the slack security at the stadium was to be blamed for the incident.

“Negri had won the match so I don’t know why their supporters provoked us,” said Hardi.

“I think if the security was better this incident would have not happened. It has taught me a lesson and I hope the other involved parties will also learn from it.”

Meanwhile, Felda United assistant manager Faisal Zakaria said they will file a complaint to FAM’s Competition Committee on the poor security at the stadium.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Kelantan FA wants to settle problems with coach Peter Butler

The Kelantan FA (KAFA) wants chief coach Peter Butler, who is in Kuala Lumpur, to return to Kota Baru and settle his problems with the management.

KAFA president Tan Sri Annuar Musa said it was important  for Butler, who left Kota Baru after the FA Cup match against Sarawak last week, to return  immediately.

"We have been in contact regularly through the phone and text messages but this is not enough.

We want him to come back and thrash out the problems with the management committee.

"He should voice out his dissatisfaction openly so that we can solve the problem. We are  presently at an important stage where the AFC Cup is starting soon, the league is almost midway and the FA Cup just past the first round.

"We do not want the team to be bogged down by all these problems which might affect their performance," said Annuar after the announcement of a sponsorship  to the tune of about RM200,000 from Mamee-Double Decker to KAFA.

Butler claimed that he was suspended for three weeks following his outburst over the management's interference in the hiring of foreign players but KAFA said he was merely 'rested' until all problems surrounding the English coach were resolved.

Annuar  declined to confirm that Bojan Hodak, the former UPB-MyTeam coach who was brought in to head KAFA's football academy this week, will replace Butler if he was to tender  his resignation.

Terengganu determined to keep in-form striker Francis Doe

There will be no cashing in on Doe. Liberian hitman Francis Doe’s sparkling form has caught the eye of other teams, but Terengganu FA insist the Liberian hitman is not for sale.

Terengganu FA deputy president Sheikh Ahmad Tajudin Sheikh Yusof said rumours have been circulating ever since the prolific striker started tucking in the goals.

“We are not interested. Doe is, and always will be, our player. Other teams maybe interested but we intend to hold on to our best players,” he said.

Sheikh Ahmad claimed the rumours were started by irresponsible parties out to disrupt the team’s spirit and the player’s focus.

“We have rules for every foreign player at Asean level. When a foreigner quits, he cannot play for another team in Malaysia for two years,” he said.

Doe, 26, has played for Egyptian team Ah-Ahly, American New York Red Bulls and Minnesota Thunder as well as DC United.

His form in the Super League has been remarkable as he has been scoring in almost every game. 

T-Team giving trial to Brazilian striker Marco Tulio

Club side T-Team are resuming their hunt for a foreign forward to replace sacked striker Zachariah Sumikonda.

The latest to undergo trials is Brazilian Marco Tulio, a former player in the Azerbaijan Premier League Team with Turan Tovuz.

Coach Yunus Alif said the 31-year-old player, who could play as an attacking midfield or striker, was being monitored through training sessions and friendlies.

“It is our latest effort to replace Sumikonda whose contract was terminated two weeks ago,” said Yunus.

“Marco is with us on the recommendation of Johor manager Fandi Ahmad. After the FA Cup match last week, Fandi suggested we give Marco a try as Johor had filled their quota of foreign players,” he said.

Tulio will be available to play only after the April transfer window opens if he makes the grade.

“We have tried him out for two days and he appears to be a gifted player. But we need to see more if we are to sign him on,” said Yunus.

Kelantan to build a new modern stadium

The Kelantan Football  Association (KAFA) hope to build its own stadium at a piece of land donated to the association by Sultan Muhammad V at Bandar Baru Tunjong, here.

 KAFA President Tan Sri Annuar Musa said work on the 30,000 capacity stadium, estimated to cost about RM300 million, would start soon.

"Sultan Muhammad V has given his consent to develop a 40-hectare site in Tunjong, including the building of a state-of-the-art stadium at a 8-hectare site with the design based on the Cardiff City Stadium.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Kelantan FA suspend coach Peter Butler for three weeks

The relationship between Peter Butler and Kelantan FA has reached near breaking-point after the coach was suspended for three weeks following his outburst over the management's interference in the hiring of foreign players.

Butler is at odds with FA president Tan Sri Annuar Musa after criticising his employer following Kelantan's 2-1 defeat to Selangor on Feb 14 for de-registering Lebanese striker Mohammed Ghadar  and signing Nigerian forward Onyekachi Nwoha without the Englishman's input.

Butler and the FA appeared to have resolved the issue in talks before Kelantan's FA Cup win over Sarawak in Kota Baru last week only for the FA to act against the former West Ham United midfielder.

"I've been handed a letter saying I've been suspended for three weeks beginning yesterday (Thursday). I can't comment any more on it," said Butler when reached in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

When asked if he was planning to resign, Butler said: "No, not all. I have 19 months left on my contract. But I will be seeking legal advice."

This is Butler's second stint with Kelantan having left abruptly on the eve of the 2009 Malaysia Cup campaign after steering Kelantan to the FA Cup final that year.

Kelantan, who currently lead the Super League standings by two points from Perak after eight matches, open their AFC Cup campaign against Navibank Saigon in Bukit Jalil on Mar 7 and face Kuala Lumpur in the second round of the FA Cup three days later.

Kelantan FA has been less than impressed with Butler's four foreign signings this season and acted to replace Ghaddar and Ghanaian Dennis Antwi with Nwoha and fellow Nigerian Obinna Nwaneri while farming Lebanon's Zakaria Charara and Emmanuel Okine of Ghana on loan to KL.

Annuar took to Facebook to express his displeasure with the situation, without directly referencing Butler.

"Team officials who have been treated professionally must themselves act professionally. Match and team reports must be prepared, friendly schedule arranged for the whole season.
Don't give the media one report and to the management another. Must look after the harmony of the team and not have favourites and blacklist players," wrote Annuar yesterday.

Reports yesterday also quoted Kelantan team manager Azman Ibrahim as saying: "He has been rested while we work out several issues including his dissatisfaction with the management.

"We will take everything into consideration before making any decisions and we hope the team's performance will not be affected at this time."

Former UPB-MyTeam handler Bojan Hodak was this week hired by Kelantan to run their academy and the Croat could take charge of the team in Butler's absence.

In the meantime, assistant coach Sidek Samsuddin is supervising training ahead of Kelantan's next Super League match against Negri Sembilan on Mar 4.

SEA Games squad get award for winning gold medal

The Sea Games winning Under-23 football squad have been picked as the SAM-100Plus "Out-Do Yourself' award winners for 2011 by the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM).

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee and his boys beat the odds to retain the gold medal, which Malaysia won in Laos in 2009.

"It is a great honour for the team to receive this award. We had to get past  Thailand and  Indonesia before we were crowned champions," said Kim Swee.

The highlight of tomorrow's ceremony will be the crowning of the "Athlete of the Year 2011" award.

Among those nominated are badminton star Lee Chong Wei and squash world champion Nicol David.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Olympic squad to prepare for Asian Under-22 Championship qualifiers

With an eye on the Asian Under-22 Championship qualifiers in June, national youth coach Ong Kim Swee opted for exposure over experience in the 4-0 Olympic qualifying defeat to Japan at Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.

Eight players in the first XI of the Asian zone third round Group C match at the National Stadium are eligible for the new continental age-group championship where Malaysia have been drawn with  South Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines and Taiwan in Group G.

Kim Swee relegated defender Muslim Ahmad to the bench and restored Fadhli Shas to play alongside Amer Saidin while Irfan Fazail and Nazmi Faiz Mansor patrolled the midfield in the absence of the injured K. Gurusamy and the benched Ahmad Fakri Saarani.

Along with starters Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Mahalli Jasuli and Fandi Othman, Muslim, Gurusamy and Fakri are all aged 23  and are ineligible for the Under-22 qualifiers.

"Before the game, we knew we were not going to qualify (for the Olympics) and we thought this was the best moment to test some of our players.

"Out of the 11, eight players can still play in the Under-22 Championship qualifiers. It was a good time to learn where we stand and for me, I think the players have learned a lot," said Kim Swee after the match.

Japan, who scored through Hiroki Sakai (35th), Yuya Osako (45th), Genki Haraguchi (55th) and Manabu Saito (60th), certainly gave Malaysia the run-around with their decisive passing and clinical finishing.

Malaysia were bereft of ideas going forward although pint-sized Nazmi held up well against bigger opponents and was the source of Malaysia's only gilt-edged chance when he played A. Thamil Arasu through on goal.

Defeat left Malaysia anchored to the bottom of Group C with just one match against Syria in Jordan remaining on March 14 while Japan need just a draw against Bahrain in Tokyo to qualify for the London Olympics.

Kelantan FA asks coach Peter Butler to take a break for criticising the management

The Kelantan football crisis plunged to new depths after the state FA told coach Peter Butler (pic) to take a break for openly criticising the management recently on the issue of hiring foreign players.

The  Super League leaders trained at the Sultan Mohd IV Sta­dium yesterday without their maverick coach, who is believed to be in Kuala Lumpur, fuelling speculation that the Englishman’s days with Kelantan are numbered.

Kelantan FA (Kafa) secretary-general and team manager Azman Ibrahim said Butler was told to take an indefinite break to allow the 46-year-old to prepare an official explanation for his remarks.

This is Butler’s second stint with the east coast side. The Englishman was with Kelantan during the 2008-2009 season but left the team in the lurch two weeks before the Malaysia Cup kicked off in 2009, despite having two more months remaining in his contract.

Kelantan face a crunch tie against Negri Sembilan in the Super League on March 4 in Kota Baru. They will also be making their debut in the AFC Cup, playing Navibank of Saigon in Kota Baru on March 7.

“Butler has not been suspended or sacked. He has just been given a short break from his duties as head coach. He will still be paid his wages and benefits,” said Azman yesterday. “The decision was over the remarks he made against Kafa. The management feels that it would be better to give him a chance to explain to us what exactly he is not satisfied about.

“It is not that Kafa cannot accept criticism. We want him to explain to us personally. This issue will never be settled if he only speaks to the media.”

Assistant coaches Zahasmi Ismail and Sidek Shamsudin will take over Butler’s duties in his absence. Butler had hit out at the team management for not being given any say in the signing of foreign players or team selection.

Coach Ong Kim Swee looking to future after failure in Olympic qualifiers

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee’s post-match press conference summed up Malaysia’s 4-0 defeat by Japan in their Asian Group C Olympic qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The match was a dead rubber as Malaysia had suffered four straight defeats. They had earlier gone down by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria, and 3-2 to Bahrain.

In Manama on Feb 5, Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying even for the playoffs hit the skids after losing 2-1 to Bahrain.

It was hardly an even contest as Malaysia were outclassed by Japan in every department in the white-wash on Wednesday night as Kim Swee opted to not “park the bus” in front of goal.

The ruthless Young Samurais completed their mission of winning and increasing their goal difference with goals from Hiroki Sakai (36th), Yuya Osako (45th), Genki Haraguchi (55th) and Manabu Saito (60th).

The win enabled them to regain top spot in Group C and their qualification for the London Olympics is practically sealed with Syria’s 2-1 loss to Bahrain.

Kim Swee conceded there’s a big gap between Malaysia and Asian giants Japan.

“We received a good lesson of what it takes to achieve their level. It’s what separates us from a good team,” said Kim Swee.

“We have to accept that we lost to a better side. Everyone can see that we have plenty of work to do.”

Despite the thrashing, which is also the biggest ever defeat the team suffered under Kim Swee who took over the reigns of the team in 2009, there is hope for the team.

The experience will be vital as the team prepare for the inaugural Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers scheduled to kick off on June 23.

“We have to look at the future now. I believe the players would have learnt their lesson and will get better as they mature,” said Kim Swee.

Six Johor FC President Cup players suspended on suspicion of match-fixing

Six footballers from the Johor FC President’s Cup (Under-20) squad have been suspended with immediate effect on suspicion of match-fixing.

The club’s secretary Tahir Hamdan said the six would remain suspended until police investigations are over.

“They are suspended without salary. We view the matter seriously and will not hesitate to take drastic action against any player found to have flouted the law,” a concerned Tahir said yesterday.

Tahir said elements of match-fixing had surfaced in the President’s Cup competition following Johor FC’s surprise 3-0 win over Perlis at the Pasir Gudang Stadium on Feb 16.

He said Johor FC had earlier lost all three matches after going down to Perak (2-0), Armed Forces (1-0) and Muar MC (1-0). After the unexpected win over Perlis, the club side were beaten 3-1 by Terengganu in their last game.

Johor FC were the first club side to win the President’s Cup in 2009.

Tahir had lodged a police report after the Perlis match on Feb 17. It is learnt that team officials had confiscated the mobile phones of the players after the match and found elements of match-fixing.

Johor Chief Police Officer Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said police have completed their investigations and the case has now been taken over by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Johor MACC chief Simi Abdul Ghani said the players concerned “will be called up soon” to have their statements taken.

On Feb 16, newly-elected Johor FA president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said two Johor teams in the Premier League competition – Muar MC and Johor Baru City Council – were suspected of being linked to match-fixing.

The other team in the Premier League is the Johor state team.

Early this month, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) suspended 11 players from the President’s Cup (national Under-20 league) and banned a Negri Sembilan coach for life for fixing matches last season.

FAM later revealed that they had more leads into match-fixing with three M-League teams under investigation.

FAM to implement programme to identify talented youngsters in all states

The Football Association of Malaysia's (FAM) move to implement its touch base programme at every state is aimed to identify talented young players as well to meet fans of the national team.

FAM vice president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal said the touch base programme would also include Sabah and Sarawak, two states that were responsible for producing players like Datuk James Wong, Hassan Sani and Matlan Marjan in the 80s.

"The national squad's visit to Sabah is the first being held show our appreciation to the fans for their continuous support to the national team. We also want to give fans an opportunity to meet the national players from close range," he told reporters after announcing the scheduled friendly match between the national squad and Sabah at the Likas Stadium tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Malaysia go down tamely to Japan in Olympic qualifier

The hard truth is that Malaysia remain a long way from matching Asia's best as yesterday's 4-0 defeat to Japan in the 2012 Asian Olympic Group qualifier at the National Stadium underlined. 

The national Under-23 team lacked imagination and cutting edge as they crashed to their heaviest defeat in nine matches in this campaign and the fifth in a row in Group C.

Coach Ong Kim Swee admitted his team were below par and that plenty of work needs to be done to catch up with the likes of Japan.

"I hope everyone can see that we have a lot of work to do. We lost to a better team and people would compare with the first match (in Tosu last year) when we parked the bus and lost 2-0.

"Today (Yesterday) we tried several attacking options and it got worse. We need to be consistent over 90 minutes, we lack the ability of Japan and we got punished.

"We learned a good lesson of what it takes to achieve their level, it's what separates us from being a good and matured team," said Kim Swee after presiding over a seventh successive defeat to Japan at Under-23 level since 1999.

Japan dominated the game from the start as Khairul Fahmi Che Mat was the busier of the two goalkeepers early on when he twice denied Japan in the first 16 minutes -- saving from Manabu Saito in the eighth minute before turning Hiroki Sakai's low effort past the post.

Malaysia suffered a blow when right-back Mahalli Jasuli hobbled off in the 18th minute to be replaced by Affize Faisal Mamat before Japan struck in the 35th minute on the counter.

Genki Haraguchi beat Amer Saidin in pace and though the defender recovered with a last-ditch tackle, he only succeeded in diverting the ball into the path of Sakai to slot past Fahmi.

Nazmi Faiz Mansor engineered the best chance for Malaysia four minutes later but A. Thamil Arasu struck his shot weakly at Shuichi Gonda.

Japan punished Malaysia for that miss on the stroke of half-time when Yuya Osako nodded in unchallenged off a free-kick to make it 2-0.

"That goal killed us," said Kim Swee. "It was hard to get back, that was the turning point. The boys tried hard but I have to admit we did not play that well."

It got worse for Malaysia after the break as Sakai turned provider ten minutes later when his cross from the right was met by the on-rushing Haraguchi at the far post to effectively kill the game as a contest.

On the hour mark, Takahiro Oghihara's shot from outside the penalty box was parried by Fahmi to a lurking Saito, who only had to tap it in for the fourth goal.

Selangor striker Surendren desperate to overcome injury problems

Selangor striker R. Surendren is hoping that he can steer clear of injuries for the rest of the season.

The 29-year-old football nomad is fed up of being on the crock list for most of his playing career.

He was down with a fractured foot when he was out on loan with Kelantan in 2010.

Last year, he pulled a hamstring when he turned out for Pahang.

His wretched run with injuries continued when he returned to Selangor this year – suffering a dislocated shoulder during the pre-season.

“Thank God, I am recovering. I should be ready to feature in the coming matches for Selangor,” said Surendren yesterday.

Surendren played a key role in the Red Giants’ treble success – Charity Shield, FA Cup and Super League – in 2009.

He bagged more than a dozen goals for Selangor and scored the winner in their 2-1 win over Negri Sembilan in the Charity Shield match in 2010.

The Selangor forward line has been badly hit since Mohd Safee Sali left to join Indonesian Super League (ISL) outfit Pelita Jaya FC last February.

Although Surendren has yet to start for the Red Giants this season, he could forge a new partnership with Croatian striker Bosko Balaban, who has two goals to his credit.

“I trained with Balaban for the first time today.

“I feel comfortable playing with him. Hopefully, we will be able to deliver the goods,” said Surendren.

Skipper Mohd Amri Yahyah was moved upfront following Surendren’s injury and the dearth of strikers in the squad.

The other strikers – like Wan Mohd Hoesne Wan Hussain and Famirul Asraf Sayuti – are inexperienced. Selangor have also had to rely on their attacking midfielders – like Mohd Safiq Rahim Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal, Mohd Fitri Shazwan Raduwan, Azidan Sarudin and K. Solihin – lending support up front.

Kelantan striker Norshahrul down with injury

Hotshot Norshahrul Idlan Talaha’s untimely injury has delivered a double blow to Kelantan and the national football team.

The two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Year is down with a knee injury, sustained during the domestic competition last week, and has been ruled out from the national training squad preparing for the friendlies against Super League side Sabah in Kota Kinabalu tomorrow and the Philippines national team in Manila on Feb 29.

National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal has no choice but to leave out Norshahrul for the two friendlies, which are part of their preparations for the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championships in November.

Mohd Safee Sali, who plays for Indonesian Super League side Pelita Jaya FC, and Norshahrul are the two main men upfront.

In fact, the duo were instrumental in the national team winning the Suzuki Cup in 2010.

Norshahrul’s injury is also bad news for the Red Warriors, as they look ahead to the AFC Cup and FA Cup competitions.

Team manager Azman Ibrahim said Norshahrul will be out for three weeks, which means that Kelantan will be without their top scorer for three home matches – against Negri Sembilan (Super League) on March 4, Navibank of Saigon (AFC Cup) on March 7 and Kuala Lumpur (FA Cup) in the second round tie on March 10.

With Norshahrul, their leading goal-getter with five goals in the Super League, out, the task to deliver the goals will now rest on the shoulders of Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Norfarhan Mohd and S. Chanturu.

Kelantan will also check out new Nigerian signing Onyakachi Nwoha in a friendly against Singapore Armed Forces in Kota Baru on Saturday.

Azman said Nwoha failed to impress when he made his debut against Sarawak in the FA Cup first round game on Feb 17. Kelantan won the game 2-1 in Kota Baru.

“It was his (Nwoha) first game and it’s only fair that we give him a few more matches to familiarise himself with the conditions here. We hope the friendly will work out well for Nwoha,” said Azman.

The Kelantan FA (Kafa) aim to raise the bar for Malaysian football by making a strong impression in their AFC Cup debut this year.

The Red Warriors are drawn in Group H with Ayeyawady United (Mya), Arema Indonesia (Ina) and Navibank Saigon (Vie).

FIFA official Eaton to clarify statement about match-fixing

FIFA head of security Chris Eaton has an appointment with the FA of Malaysia (FAM) in Kuala Lumpur next month.

FAM general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad confirmed that Eaton would be in town on March 5 to clarify his statement to a Singapore daily that FAM officials were involved in match-fixing.

“We received an email from Eaton today with regards to his appointment with the FAM on March 5. He is also seeking an appointment with the Youth and Sports Minister (Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek),” said Azzuddin yesterday.

FAM are upset with Eaton for speaking to the press last May despite FIFA’s decision to communicate all matters pertaining to match-fixing with the respective national associations.

Eaton, who described Malaysia and Singapore as centres of interest for match-fixing, had also revealed that one of the Singapore Lions XII matches in the Super League was fixed.

Earlier this month, the FAM suspended 11 youth players from the President’s Cup (national Under-20 league) and banned a coach for life for match-fixing. FAM later revealed that they had more leads into match-fixing, with three M-League teams still under investigation.

Eaton had told FAM during his visit to Wisma FAM last May that several Malaysians were involved in match-fixing scandals in Germany, Finland and Singapore and that investigations pointed to a significant bookie connection in Kuala Lumpur.

At the same time, FAM were cleared of any wrongdoing by FIFA in their probe into a suspected global network in match-fixing.

Since then, FAM have stepped up their efforts to eradicate the menace by setting up a vetting, monitoring and transparency committee headed by Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat.

Former Prime Minister believes Malaysia can become one of the best teams in Asia

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that Malaysia are capable of becoming one of the best football teams in Asia.

Dr Mahathir visited the national Under-23 team at the Palace of the Golden Horses yesterday, ahead of their Asian Zone Group C Olympic qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.

He said the Malaysian players had the physique to match their Japanese counterparts.

“I’m a doctor and I know that diet and nutrition play a big role in sports,” he said. “Our sportsmen were small sized before but we are now capable matching foreign athletes, especially our footballers who are of the same size as the Japanese. We have a tough match against the Japan but I really hope we can beat them this time.”

Dr Mahathir, who advocated the Look East policy in 1981, has advised the team to emulate Japan’s success in football.

“We can learn a lot from the Japanese … they are very productive and very efficient people,” he said.

Japan beat Malaysia to boost qualification hopes in Olympic qualifier

Japan achieved both their targets in their 4-0 demolition of the national Under-23 side in their penultimate Asian Group C Olympic qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Not only did Japan get all three points but they also improved their goal difference with the big win.

Japan got their goals through Hiroki Sakai (36th minute), Yuya Osako (45th), Genki Haraguchi (55th) and Manabu Saito (60th) to revive their hopes of an automatic qualification for the London Olympics.

Syria and Japan were tied on nine points prior to last night’s match, with the middle east nation having a better goal difference. The win over Malaysia sees Japan topping the group temporarily as Syria were scheduled to play Bahrain later yesterday.

The match against Japan clearly showed up the national players’ inability to read the game and to make the right decisions at the crucial moments and that proved to be the team’s downfall.

“We opted for an attacking play after playing defensively in the first leg and it cost us dearly,” said coach Ong Kim Swee after the match.

“We had our moments but lacked the ability to make chances count. We tried to come back after going a goal down, but Japan’s second goal killed us off. We have to accept that plenty of work is needed if we are to reach the level of giants like Japan.”

Kim Swee’s men did well during the early stages of the match before the same old malaise – lack of concentration – cropped up after the half hour mark.

And this time not even goalkeeper-cum-skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, who put up a virtuoso performance in the 2-0 loss to Japan in Fukuoka last September, could save them.

Malaysia’s Olympic dreams have long been dashed after four straight defeats earlier – going down by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain.

Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying for the playoffs went up after losing 2-1 to Bahrain in Manama on Feb 5.

Malaysia get thrashed by Japan in Olympic qualifier

Malaysia crashed to their fifth consecutive defeat in the Asian Zone (Group C) Olympic qualifying football match, going down tamely to fancied Japan 0-4 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil Wednesday night.

The Japanese scored through Hiroki Sakai (36th minute), Yuya Osako (45th), Genki Haraguchi (55th) and Manabu Saito (60th) to top the four-group standings on 12 points.

Only 3.5 slots are available to Asia for the London Games (July 27-Aug 12). The three group winners advance automatically while the three runners-up will play another round of matches.

The winners will then face a play-off against another qualifier from Africa.

Bottom-placed Malaysia will wrap up their fixtures against Syria at the Prince Mohammed Stadium on March 14.

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee’s boys lacked the finesse of making the right decision in the crucial moment and it proved to be the downfall of the team.

After an admirable performance in the early stages of the match, the team just repeated the same old routine of losing focus.

Goalkeeper-cum-skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat did well to make some good saves but could not maintain his strong performances shown in Fukuoka when they went down to the same Japan side 0-2 September last year.

Malaysia did look dangerous on several occasions, especially striker A. Thamil Arasu, who came the closes to putting his name on the score sheet but his low shot in the 40th minute was easily palmed away to safety by Japanese keeper Gonda Shuichi.

Terengganu striker Abdul Manaf Mamat wants to improve scoring

Terengganu striker, Abdul Manaf Mamat  is determined to maintain his scoring touch in the Malaysian League after ending his goal drought last Saturday.

In the FA Cup competition against PDRM at Stadium Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah here, Abdul Manaf scored two goals to ensure Terengganu, the defending champion, advanced into the second round to play against Perak next month.

Abdul Manaf, who is currently undergoing training with the national team for the friendly match against Sabah tomorrow, said he was not satisfied with his achievement and hoped to improve his performance in the subsequent matches.

"With these goals, I hope they will be followed by other goals, thus helping to boost my spirit and colleagues to win the next games," he said when contacted Bernama Thursday.

Last season, Abdul Manaf who will end his bachelorhood next month, scored six goals in the Malaysian League campaign.

Perak to give trials to three African players

Three players from Africa will be training  with the Perak team starting early next month to fill the imported players quota in the second registration stage that has been allowed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

Perak Football Association (PAFA) president Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin said the team was already bolstered by two imported players but the presence of the African players would strengthen the squad further.

"At the moment, we don't have any plan to drop the imported players that we have signed before," he said.

FAM had recently allowed the second registration of imported players starting from April 2 until April 16.

Perak had signed Serbian players, Lazar Popovic and Michal Kubala to strengthen the squad for this 2012 M-League season that begins January this year.

Olympic squad coach admits team not good enough

The national Olympic squad have to improve their game to assail to a higher level such as the Olympics, said chief coach Ong Kim Swee.

He said the quality of the game displayed by his players in the encounter against Blue Samurai in Group C of the 2012 Asian Zone Olympic Qualifiers tonight showed that they had not reached a level that Malaysia could be proud of.

"We've got to make a lot of improvements if we want to compete against great football nations such as Japan," he told reporters after Harimau Muda A (Olympic) squad lost 0-4 to Japan at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Kim Swee also admitted that the defeat was also due to his mistake in failing to map out an effective strategy.

Japan will meet Bahrain in an away match while Malaysia will play against Syria on a neutral ground in Jordan, both on March 14.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Olympic coach Ong Kim Swee planning new strategy against Japan in Olympic qualifier

National Olympic coach Ong Kim Swee revealed yesterday that his side will play a different brand of football against Japan in today's Olympic Qualifiers Group C match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.  

Japan, after their shock 2-1 loss to Syria earlier this month, are not only desperate for three points but also want goals and coach Takashi Sekizuka has instructed his men to go for a huge victory.

"We have no pressure unlike Japan and we are going to try new strategies. If our opponents become too offensive, I am afraid we will punish them," Kim Swee said at Wisma FAM yesterday.

"Pride is at stake here and Japan, being the No 1 ranked team in Asia, need three points from this match. My players are eager to give their best and we have nothing to lose.

"History will be made if we beat Japan tomorrow (today), though, this is only an Olympic qualifying match.

"We will play without fear as we have no pressure. We will play differently and, hopefully, it will be good enough to earn something from Japan."

Japan and Syria are even same on points and goal difference, but the latter lead the group on goals scored. Malaysia side are out of the running following four straight defeats.

Kim Swee, however, needs to re-shuffle his midfield as three key players are unavailable. K. Gurusamy is injured while Gary Steven Robbat and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor are suspended.

Striker Ahmad Hazwan Bakri has not recovered from a hamstring injury.    "We have injuries to key players but I have able replacements who want to use this opportunity to impress," added the coach.   

Japan, for their part, will not have the services of German-based striker Yuki Otsu of Borussia Monchengladbach and Takashi Usami of Bayern Munich, after both failed to get their release.

Sekizuka is, however, confident their absence will not affect his team's target in Kuala Lumpur.

"We came here not just for three points but also to score as many goals. As it is winter in Japan, we had our final preparation in Singapore for three days and my players have adapted well to the weather in this region."

"Malaysia are a good team. We had the possession in last year's first round match but could only score two goals, both from set-pieces. I believe we need to fully execute our set-pieces once again to beat the Malaysian back-line here."

The squads -- Malaysia: Goalkeepers: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Mohd Izham Tarmizi.
Defenders: Mohd Zubir Mohd Azmi, Muslim Ahmad, Mahalli Jasuli, Mohamad Amer Saidin, Mohd Fandi Othman, Mohamad Fadhli Mohd Shas.
Midfielders: K. Gurusamy, Muhd Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Mohd Affize Faisal, Mohd Irfan Fazail, Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, Izuan Mohd Salahuddin, Mohd Ferris Danial Mat Nasir.
Strikers: Ahmad Shakir Ali, Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, A. Thamil Arasu, Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham, Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham.

Japan -- Goalkeepers: Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo), Takuya Masuda (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shunsuke Ando (Kawasaki Frontale).
Defenders: Yusuke Higa (Yokohama F Marinos), Kazuki Oiwa (JEF United Chiba), Daisuke Suzuki (Albirex Niigata), Yutaka Yoshida (Shimizu S-Pulse), Hiroki Sakai (Kashiwa Reysol), Mizuki Hamada (Urawa Reds), Shohei Takahashi (Tokyo Verdy).
Midfielders: Kosuke Yamamoto (Jubilo Iwata), Kazuya Yamamura (Kashima Antlers), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Keigo Higashi (Omiya Ardija), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Takahiro Ogihara (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Urawa Reds).
Striker: Kensuke Nagai (Nagoya Grampus), Yuya Osako (Kashima Antlers), Kenyu Sugimoto (Cerezo Osaka).

FAM wants FIFA official to explain his statement about match-fixing

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) has given Fifa's head of security Chris Eaton five days to give a detailed explanation of his statement in Singapore's Straits Times last week that implicated local football administrators to match-fixing in Southeast Asia.

FAM general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad said: "If we fail to get a reply, we will correspond directly with Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke.

"We sent him (Eaton) a letter on Feb 16, requesting for an explanation. We are giving him another five days."

FAM is upset with Eaton's actions for choosing to reveal the information to a newspaper when it had been previously agreed that Fifa would communicate with the national body on matters pertaining to match-fixing.

Eaton was also quoted in Singapore's Today on Feb 17 as saying that Malaysia and Singapore were centres of interest for match-fixing.

"We have received several allegations (of match-fixing), both discreet and public, that seem to implicate key people in both these countries. I will respond to FAM soon," Eaton, a former Interpol officer told the newspaper,

Eaton, however, has resigned from his post and is joining Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security in May. 

"We (Fifa and FAM) have already established a line of communication whereby they (Fifa) must come to us if they have any information on match-fixing in Malaysia," said Azzuddin.

"But he (Eaton) has not told us anything nor has he shown any proof. An allegation of such nature requires proof or leads which can help us tackle the issue."

FAM, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission have begun investigations on alleged match-fixing in this season's M-League.

The national body revealed recently that three senior teams were being investigated.

Japan desperate to beat Malaysia to keep hopes alive in Olympic qualifer

The Japan Under-23 football team are hell-bent on getting the desired result against Malaysia in their do-or-die Asian Zone Olympic Group C qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, today.

The Japanese will be out to win by a big margin as they are currently second in the group. They have nine points after four matches but are behind leaders Syria on goal difference.

Only the group champions qualify automatically for the London Olympics. The second-placed teams in each group will enter a round-robin playoff with the winners facing African side Senegal for the last spot.

Japan coach Takashi Sekizuka will leave no stone unturned as they want to finish at the top of the group.

The team have been training in Singapore since Friday to acclimatise and have kept their preparation under wraps.

They even skipped the official training session at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Monday and only turned up in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“The weather in Malaysia is quite hot so we decided to train in Singapore to get used to the weather,” said Sekizuka.

“We had a great preparation there. We need the six points from our two remaining matches.

“We scored only two goals in the first leg last September and we obviously need to score more.”

However, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) do not seem to be interested in the match despite Malaysia’s coach Ong Kim Swee saying national pride is at stake.

Monday’s training session was chaotic. It was supposed to be a closed door session but the Japanese media had a free reign and Malaysia’s media officer was not present to control the situation.

Kim Swee and the coaching staff had to fend off the prying Japanese media as they went through their preparation.

Malaysia determined to do well against Japan in Olympic qualifier

Malaysia dare to dream of a famous win over Asian giants Japan in the Asian Zone Group C Olympic qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

It is a Herculean task but national Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee is counting on his boys to give their all to upstage the Japanese by not allowing them to win the penultimate fixture.

Malaysia’s Olympic dream has long been dashed after four straight defeats. They went down by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain.

In Manama on Feb 5, Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying even for the playoffs went up in smoke after losing 2-1 to Bahrain.

Syria and Japan are tied on nine points but the former lead the standings on a better goal difference. Japan have to score as many goals as they can before playing Bahrain in their last game.

For Kim Swee, it is a challenge for his boys to make their presence felt by getting a favourable result.

“The pressure is on Japan and not Malaysia. Japan need a big win,” said Kim Swee.

“If the Japanese are too offensive they will get caught by our counter attacks. It is totally a different ball game now as we are not under any pressure and playing in front of our home crowd will certainly give us an advantage.”

The homesters will be without exciting midfielders Gary Steven Robbat and Wan Zack Wan Haikal, who are out on suspension. Striker Ahmad Hazwan Bakri is out with an injury while midfielder K. Gurusamy is doubtful after suffering a thigh injury.

Meanwhile, Japan will be without their Germany-based players – Borussia Moen-chengladbach midfielder Otsu Yuki and Stuttgart fullback Gotoku Sakai.

Coach Takashi Sekizuka reckons that their fleet-footed strike force will deliver the three points.

They beat Malaysia 2-0 in the first leg in Fukuoka on Sept 2.

“We need to win our remaining two qualifiers for the automatic slot to the Olympics,” said Sekizuka.

“Goals will be important for us in the last two matches and we need to be clinical in our finishing. I hope my strikers will be at their best.”

Malaysia hoping to cause upset over Japan in Olympic qualifier

The National Under-23 squad  will go all out to score a win against Japan although a win in the Asian Zone Group C Olympic qualifying match will not change Malaysia's fortune.

Coach Ong Kim Swee's boys will be hoping to score their first win in the competition when they face Japan, needing a big win, at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, tomorrow.

"Although we failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, a win or a draw against Japan will be a big result for us," he told reporters after a training session at Wisma FAM here Tuesday.

Ong said since the team was injury free and have had enough rest, there was no reason for the players to perform well tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Japan looking for goals against Malaysia in Olympic qualifier

Only goals will matter for Japan when they face Malaysia in tomorrow's Olympic Qualifying Group C match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Japan coach Takashi Sekizuka is counting on Borussia Monchengladbach striker Yuki Otsu and full international  Genki Haraguchi to boost his team's attack against an experienced Malaysian back-line, led by centre-back Muslim Ahmad.

The 21-year-old Otsu, who missed Japan's crippling 2-1 defeat away to Syria earlier this month, is set to join up with Sekizuka's team today. His Bundesliga club refused to release him for the Syria match.

Otsu scored a goal each in Japan's victories over Bahrain (2-0) and Syria (2-1) in the first round last year.

His inclusion for the Malaysia game along with Urawa Reds midfielder Haraguchi comes as a major boost for the 20-member Japan squad.

The other strikers in the squad are Kensuke Nagai, Yuya Osako and Kenyu Sugimoto.

"First and foremost, we have to win. Then we need to pump in as many goals as we can," Sekizuka told yesterday.

Japan and Syria are even on points and goal difference, but the latter lead the group  on total goals scored.

Only the group champions  qualify automatically for London.

The second-placed teams in each group will enter a round-robin play-off with the winners facing African side Senegal for the continent's last spot at the Games.

Japan have   featured in the last four Olympics, but the prospect of not qualifying for London has become a grim possibility with the loss to Syria.

"Obviously, the Syria defeat was disappointing because it sent us back to the drawing board.

"We need to unite more than ever as a team so we can head into this match for a win," added Sekizuka.

Malaysia are out of the running for an Olympic spot following four straight defeats. 

Coach Ong Kim Swee, however, wants his players to give their 100 per cent commitment tomorrow.

"We must not surrender so easily to Japan. The players must fight hard and play to win.

"Our advantage is that we will be playing without any pressure unlike Japan. I want only the best from my players," said Kim Swee.

Khairul Fahmi ready to frustrate Japan again in Olympic qualifier

National Under-23 goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat believes the pressure is on Japan and not Malaysia when they meet in their Asian Zone Olympic Group C qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow.

Japan will be out to win by a big margin as they are currently second in the group. They have nine points but are behind leaders Syria on goal difference.

Khairul, who was phenomenal in the first leg when he kept the scoreline at a respectable 2-0 against a vastly superior Japan in Fukuoka on Sept 2, wants to deny the Blue Samurai again.

Malaysia have no hope of making the Olympics after losing all five qualifying matches in the group. 

They lost 2-0 to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain in the first leg. They also lost 2-1 to Bahrain in the second leg.

Although the match against Japan is of no consequence, Khairul said the team will play for pride.

“We cannot qualify but that does not mean that we can take the match lightly,” said Khairul, who is also the team’s skipper.

“We will be playing at home and we have to play for our fans. The team spirit is high although we are aware that it will be a hard match.

“The pressure is on Japan to get the goals. We will not give in easily. The players were nervous when we met Japan in our first qualifying match but I believe they have learnt since then and will be better prepared for the return match,” said Khairul.

Penang to hold selection trials for Under-19 players

The Football Association of Penang (FAP) will be holding selection trials to select under-19 players to play for the state this season at the Padang Sony, Seberang Jaya, near here beginning this Friday.

FAP administrative officer Hamzah Mohd Ismail said the selection was to give an opportunity to Penang-born players who have potentials and are interested in football to represent the state.

"The selection would be open to those who were born in and after 1993," he said in a statement here Monday.

Hamzah said those interested could come to the field from 4pm until 6pm.

Artificial football pitches to be build in all states

The Youth and Sports Ministry hopes to build at least one synthetic (artificial turf) football pitch in every state, starting this year, said its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek here Monday.

Ahmad Shabery said the first of such pitches, estimated to cost RM1 million each and build according to specifications set by FIFA, would be build in Sarawak this year.

"We will build the first one as a model pitch here before identifying suitable sites for other states," he told reporters after visiting the Sarawak Aquatics Excellence Centre situated at the Youth and Sports Complex here Monday.

He said the proposal for building the stadium had already been discussed with Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud during a meting.

"Though the cost of building the stadium will be high, it will save cost of maintenance in the long run because the synthetic turf has a shelf life of 10 years and easier to maintain," he said.

Tickets on sale for Malaysia-Japan Olympic qualifier match

Tickets for the 2012 Olympic Qualifying match between Malaysia and Japan will be on sale at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, beginning 5.30pm this Wednesday.

The match will kick-off at 8.45pm, said Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in a statemen Monday.

Tickets would be sold for RM40 (Grandstand), RM20 (Adult) and RM5 (children below 12 years old) and could be purchased at selected Petronas Station.

Fans who want to buy tickets online can do so via the website

Monday, 20 February 2012

32 teams to compete in Under-12 league tournament

Thirty-two teams from Perak, Penang and the Klang Valley will battle for the Liga 1MCC Under-12 title next month.

1MCC and Cardiff City Football Club (Holdings) Limited chairman Datuk Chan Tien Ghee said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was expected to officiate the league at the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) on March 31.

1Malaysia Cardiff City plans for the Liga 1MCC to kick off on March 3 with the competing  teams  divided into two groups.

Each  team will play  15 matches in the round robin preliminary round.

The top eight teams from each group will square off in the last 16 of the knockout stage.

The teams will be in action every Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am to 5pm at the RRI  ground  in Sungai Buloh, Selangor.

The Liga 1MCC is an FAM-sanctioned league and is a platform for  aspiring footballers to make their mark in a fun-filled and safe environment.

Players who impress  will stand a chance of attending a training stint at  Cardiff City Youth Academy which is renowned for its well-structured programmes and philosophy.

Tien Ghee said: "The Liga 1MCC provides a platform for youths from different social, economic and racial backgrounds to come together to realise their full  potential. If we can identify a potential football star, that would be a bonus.

"However, our programme is structured to reach out to all youths, encouraging a healthy lifestyle through  football.

"Other attributes such as team spirit, discipline, responsibility and commitment will emerge over time. This is also about developing our youth to be good citizens of the country."

Tien Ghee was speaking at the team managers' meeting at Bukit Kiara Club yesterday  where the team managers of the 32  teams  gathered for the  draw.

The teams:-
Shah Alam Academy FC, Akademi Bolasepak Kota Damansara, Akademi Bolasepak MBPJ, Akademi Bolasepak Tunas Lagenda, Akademi Persatuan Sukan Bintang Biru, Akadem iSoccerkids-MBSA, Astaka FC, CIMB-YFA Bintang Muda, Glenmarie United, Jasmine Junior FC, Junior Soccer Schools,  Kelab Bolasepak Remaja Harimau Klang, Kelab Bolasepak Puchong United FC, Kelab Bolasepak Remaja Bersatu, Kelab Nuri Bank Rakyat, Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer,  Lestari Junior FC, Little League Soccer, Mahkota Football Academy, MBJ United, MY Kids Soccer, PFKA Batu Caves, PKNS FC, PNSB FC, Proficient Football Academy,  Qube Football Academy, Red Giant Kid, Royal Selangor Club, S.P.T Indians Football Academy, Sweet Soccer Academy, UKRC Junior Kids, Junior Kids Perak Soccer Academy.

Cambodian club Preach Khan Reach beat Penang in FA Cup

Cambodia's Preach Khan Reach (PKR) FC marked their entry into the M-League with a sluggish 2-1 victory over Penang in Saturday's FA Cup first round match.

Prior to the team's arrival in Kuala Lumpur two days ago, the players did not train as they were more interested in partying following their 2-1 victory over NagaCorp FC to retain their Hun Sen Cup on Feb 12.

Coach Sam Vandeth said  his players partied continuously before boarding the flight to Kuala Lumpur.

"My players did not give their best today (Saturday) as they were tired. We partied a lot after our success in the Hun Sen Cup,"   Vandeth said  at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.

"We are, however, happy to make a winning  start in the FA Cup. Malaysian football is on the rise and we are honoured to be playing in this tournament.

"My team only had two days of practice before this match. We will be better prepared for the second round."

After making several schoolboy errors inside Penang's penalty box, PKR finally took the lead in the 28th minute through Phanny Ratha before Prak Mony Udom added their second by latching onto a through pass before flicking the ball over goalkeeper Shukor Abd Malek in the 86th minute.

Penang captain Hasmawi Hassan  scored a consolation goal  two minutes before time.

PKR will face KL SPA FC  in the two-leg second round tie on March 2 and 10, while Penang  make their debut in the FAM League on March 4.

FA Cup results: Sime Darby 2 Sabah 0, Felda Utd 0 Pahang 1.

Sime Darby FC and Pahang cause upset wins in FA Cup

Premier League Sime Darby FC and Pahang stunned Super League Sabah and Felda United 2-0 and 1-0 respectively in the first round of the FA Cup yesterday.

Pahang midfielder Mohd Hafiz Kamal rifled in a free-kick in the 41st minute to down Felda United 1-0 at the Hang Tuah Stadium in Malacca.

Sime Darby beat Sabah 2-0 with goals from defender Mohd Shazlan Alias in the 40th minute and Liberian striker Patrick Wleh five minutes later at the Selayang MC Stadium.

Sime Darby coach Ismail Zakaria was proud of his players who gave a disciplined performance against the much heralded Rhinos.

“It wasn’t easy, but my boys did really well and I’m proud of their performance,” said Ismail.

“Sabah play in the Super League and obviously were the favourites. But my players followed our game plan to stay compact and disciplined to win the match,” said Ismail

“We will take it one match at a time although the FA Cup isn’t our main target this season. Playing in the Cup will enable my team to mature faster.”

Sime Darby next meet fellow Premier League side USM FC in the second round at the USM Stadium on March 10.

Pahang will take on Super League side T-Team at the Sultan Ismail Nasirud­din Shah Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.

Ismail does not see their next rivals as easy prey although Sime Darby thrashed USM FC 4-1 in a Premeir League match on Feb 10.

“We have beaten them before but that doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park for us,” said Ismail.

“We have to remember that anything can happen in a knock-out competition and tread carefully.”

Defending champions Terengganu thrash Police in FA Cup

Defending champions Terengganu sounded a clear warning that they intend to keep the FA Cup by thrashing Police 4-0 in the first round at the Sultan Ismail Stadium on Saturday night.

Strikers Abdul Manaf Mamat (two goals) and Abdul Hadi Yahya finally found the net this season after firing blanks in Super League action while in-form hitman Francis Forkey Doe completed the rout.

Coach Mat Zan Mat Aris said the big win was just the tonic his team needed to regain their confidence after a poor run of results in the league.

“The players, especially Manaf and Hadi, really needed this game to regain their scoring touch.

“I’m delighted as they worked hard throughout the game. It shows that we are almost back to our best,” he said.

The Turtles have stumbled in recent matches, losing 1-0 to Kelantan and drawing 1-1 with Kedah, but Mat Zan feels yesterday’s win is the turning point of their season.

“We could have scored more goals but I’m satisfied with the overall performance,” he said.

“The midfield, especially Ismail Faruqi, was outstanding, supplying the strikers with sublime passes all over the park,” he said.

Mat Zan was even more bullish as the Turtles had earned the big win despite the absence of their entire starting back-line. Muslim Ahmad and ZubirAzmi are with the national Under-23 pre-Olympic team while Faizal Muhammad and captain Marzuki Yusof are injured.

“The team showed great quality and fighting spirit… that is what is needed to win matches.

“We will definitely build on this to make a run for all the trophies available,” he said.

Mat Zan has already set his sights on the team’s second round opponents Perak, who beat them in the league.

“We will be looking for payback against Perak. Revenge will be sweet,” he said.

Selangor striker Amri Yahyah scores his 100th goal for team

Selangor captain Mohd Amri Yahyah notched his 100th goal for Selangor in the 4-0 demolition of Shahzan Muda in the first round of the FA Cup in Temerloh on Saturday.

Amri completed his historic milestone with a header in the 81st minute to join Selangor legends Datuk Ghani Minhat (over 300 goals), Datuk Mokhtar Dahari (177) Azman Adnan (159) and Zainal Abidin Hassan (125) in the illustrious 100-goal club.

Selangor’s new signing Bosko Balaban opened the scoring in the 21st minute, while midfielder Mohd Safiq Rahim bagged a brace in the 65th and 72nd.

Amri said he will keep on scoring and playing for Selangor for as long as he is wanted.

“I’m happy that my first goal of the season is also my 100th goal for Selangor. It’s a special moment for me,” said the 31-year-old attacking midfielder.

“My personal target for this season is 17 goals to help the team end our title drought. I think it is an achievable target as I’m playing in my preferred role as a supporting striker behind Balaban.

“I’m confident that our strike-rate will improve as Balaban gets into shape. I hit my personal best of 23 goals in 2009 when I was playing as the supporting striker so I hope I’ll be able to do it again.”

Amri, who has donned Selangor’s famous red and yellow colours for 11 years, has scored 59 goals in the Super League, 22 in the Malaysia Cup and 19 in the FA Cup.

The Tanjung Karang lad started his career with Selangor in 2001 at the age of 20. He has been one of the mainstays of the team ever since and was appointed captain in 2009.

On the performance against FAM Cup side Shahzan Muda, Amri said the team are still not at their best despite winning two consecutive matches after a poor start in the Super League.

The Red Giants are eighth in the league with nine points from two wins, three draws and two defeats. But Amri believes that the wins over their bogey teams Kelantan and T-team prove that they can be serious contenders this season.

“We are still far from our best but we are slowly getting our form back, Balaban also needs a bit more time to fit in,” said Amri.

Pahang and Sime Darby progress to second round of FA Cup

Sime Darby FC and Pahang became the last two teams to book their tickets to the second round of the FA Cup after overcoming their respective opponents Sunday.

Sime Darby beat Sabah 2-0 at the Selayang Stadium with goals from Mohd Shazlan Alias (40th minute) and Liberian import Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh (45th minute).

In the second round to be played on March 10, Sime Darby, coached by Ismail Zakaria will face USM FC who beat Pos Malaysia, 2-1 Saturday.

Pahang under coach Dollah Salleh edged Felda United 1-0 at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka through Mohd Hafiz Kamal's solitary strike in the 39 minute and rewarded themselves with a face off against T-Team who beat Johor 2-0 Saturday.

As of Saturday, 14 teams had qualified for the second round, namely Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan, Lions XII, NS Betaria FC, USM FC, Johor FC, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Preach Khan Reach FC (Cambodia), SPA FC, Kedah, Perlis and T-Team.

With Sime Darby and Pahang making the list today, 16 teams will compete in the second round on March 10 and the eight winning teams will book their places in the quarterfinals.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Singapore coach confident they won't be affected by match-fixing allegations

LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy is confident his players will not be affected by the latest allegations of match-fixing in the M-League.

"Why should they be affected? My players are focused on the mission ahead and I am confident it will stay that way," said Sundramoorthy after watching his side blank FAM league side UiTM 3-0 in a FA Cup first round match in Shah Alam yesterday.

The Lions side have been making headlines following claims that their victories over Sabah (1-0) and Negri Sembilan (3-1) were under investigation by the FA of Malaysia (FAM) and Fifa.

The Lions made their debut in the FA Cup impressively by taking an early lead through Shaiful Esah's volley in the 11th minute before Madhu Mohana added their second four minutes later.

An own goal from UiTM's Ahmad Shahril in the 84th minute ensured them a comfortable win.
Lions will face Negri Sembilan's Betaria FC, who thrashed Malacca 4-0, in next month's two-leg  second round tie.

"My players went out there and did their job well. I have no complains as it is always difficult to play against an underdog. Credit to the university boys for trying hard and giving us a tough match.

"I am particularly impressed with UiTM's midfielder Saiful Raduwan and striker Muhd Nursalam.

They gave us a lot of problems with their speed and mobility," said Sundramoorthy.

UiTM coach Azman Eusoff said he was happy with his players' never-say-die attitude.

"I am proud of my team. It could have been better if my players had a little more experience. We conceded two soft goals.  Again it could have been different if my first choice keeper (Muhd Hazriq) was available," said Azman, the former assistant coach of the Young Tigers A squad.

Pahang to rely on Russian forwards for goals against Felda United in FA Cup

Pahang will have more depth in attack with the introduction of their two new Russian signings for the FA Cup match against Super League side Felda United at the Hang Jebat Stadium today.

Coach Dollah Salleh said Boris Kochkin and Eduard Sakhnevich would provide more fire upfront together with the Elephants’ in-form striker Mohd Azamuddin Akil, who has four goals to his credit.

“There is no pressure on the team but all eyes will be on our new Russian signings. I’m sure they will forge a better understanding with the team after a few matches,” said Dollah yesterday.

Pahang, FA Cup winners in 2006, are looking for a good run in the competition. But Dollah said their priority was in topping the Premier League to win promotion to the top flight. After seven matches, Pahang are in second spot in the 12-team standings with 16 points – two behind leaders Armed Forces.

Sime Darby FC, another Premier League side, will be in action against Sabah at the Selayang Stadium today.

Coach Ismail Zakaria said they have an even chance against the East Malaysian side.

“Sabah are a hard working team but I won’t rule out an upset by my boys. We have a game plan to get the desired result,” said Ismail.

The club side, boosted by Liberians Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and Sengbah Kennedy, have also acquired experienced hands Irme Che Mat, Mohd Zamri Hassan and Hairul Nizam Haniff from PKNS FC and Razali Umar Kandasamy from Perak.

Terengganu, Kelantan and Selangor progress to next round in FA Cup

Defending champions Terengganu cruised into the second round of the FA Cup with a convincing 4-0 win over Police while their neighbours Kelantan had to dig deep into their reserves to edge Sarawak 2-1 yesterday.

At the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru, substitute Mohd Norfarhan Mohd – who replaced the ineffective Nigerian Onyekachi Nwoha – turned hero for the Red Warriors when  he scored the winner in stoppage time.

Mohd Azizan Baba stunned the hosts by firing Sarawak ahead in the 20th minute before Indra Putra Maha­­yuddin equalised in the 34th minute.

Kelantan coach Peter Butler said he was happy with his side’s performance after being given such a tough fight by Sarawak.

“The team played well but I would be happier if we scored more goals,” said Butler.

“In a knock-out competition, you can’t afford to underestimate your opponent.. they have nothing to lose.”

Kelantan will meet Kuala Lumpur in the second round on March 10. The City side defeated Muar MC 3-0.

Sarawak coach Robert Alberts said his players did not play to their full potential but praised his Cameroon signing Guy Bwele.

Sarawak should have won the match in the dying minutes but their Croatian striker Vedran Muratovic ballooned a sitter which eventually cost his side a famous win.

“I’m proud of my team’s performance despite the players not playing to their true potential. Kelantan have invested the most in players and should beat us,” said Alberts.

In Kuala Terengganu, Abdul Manaf Mamat hit a brace for the Turtles in the 38th and 65th minutes while Abdul Hadi Yahya (10th) and Francis Doe (80th) nailed one each.

The night’s upset saw the fall of Negri Sembilan to club side Johor FC 1-2 at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi.

Arthuro Bernhardt was the hero for Johor FC, scoring a brace in the 25th and 81st minutes while Jean-Emmanuel Owona replied for Negri in the 31st minute.

Johor FC will meet Selangor in the next round.

In Temerloh, Selangor skipper Mohd Amri Yahyah celebrated his 100th goal en route to the Red Giants’ 4-0 whitewash of FAM Cup side Shahzan Muda.

New signing Bosko Balaban scored in his second consecutive match in the 21st minute before Mohd Safiq Rahim netted a brace in the 65th and 72nd minutes.

Amri bagged his century in the 81st minute.

The match between Kedah and PKNS FC ended 1-1 after regulation and extra-time before the Canaries emerged 4-2 winners in a penalty shootout at the Darulaman Stadium in Alor Setar.

In Shah Alam, Singapore Lions downed Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) FC 3-0 at the UiTM Stadium.

Leftback Saiful Esah opened the scoring in the ninth minute before rightback Madhu Mohana doubled their lead in the 15th.

UiTM skipper Ahmad Shahril scored an own goal in the 85th minute to complete the rout.