Friday, 30 March 2012

Malaysia determined to defend AFF Cup

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have drawn up a master plan to retain the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Federation (AFF) championships this year.

National team manager Datuk Subahan Kamal said they are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to maintain their supremacy in this biennial regional championship.

“It may be a tall order to defend the title but we are optimistic of proving that our success is no flash in the pan,” Subahan said after the national trainees concluded their second phase of centralised training at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal has identified a big pool of 66 players and will be testing each one of them in the remaining seven phases of centralised training before the AFF championship begin from Nov 14-Dec 22.

Subahan said they have lined up eight international test matches for the national team, including against India in May (away), Singapore in June (home and away), New Zealand in Sept (home and away), UAE and Qatar both in October (away). 

He said there will also go on a three-match playing tour of either Australia or China from July 27-Aug 12.

“We are more or less done with the selection process and have chosen a mixture of senior and young players from the Under-21 age-group. By the end of April we will finalise 35 players for the next stage of our preparations,” said Subahan.

He said the national team’s target is to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup Finals in Australia.

“It is a long process but we are getting there. The next stage of our preparations will be to arrange top notch matches for the players. In May, we will get down to serious training. There is bound to be new players because some seniors are struggling to recover from injuries. The good thing is that we have promising talents emerging from the Harimau Muda squads too,” said Subahan.

Two players from the Harimau Muda A squad, currently playing in the S-League, have been offered places in Division Two club sides in Japan.

“This is the beginning and we hope to see more of our boys playing abroad. I will be happy to see more boys play in Korea, China, Thailand or even in Singapore. If we can get at least 10 boys playing overseas – the result of the national team will improve in Asia,” said Subahan, who believes that the national team will gain from the players’ exposure in more challenging leagues.

At present, national striker Mohd Safee Sali is the only one plying his trade in Indonesia with Pelita Jaya FC.

Negeri Sembilan striker Jean Owona told to behave

Top Negeri Sembilan goal poacher Jean Owona has been warned not to get into unnecessary trouble.

Head coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah said the two-match ban on Owona has put the team in a difficult spot ahead of their Super League matches matches against Kuala Lumpur at the Hang Jebat Stadium today and Lions XII at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on April 3.

“Everyone knows Owona is the main man for goals … and to have him out for two matches is a blow to our league campaign,” said a disappointed Azraai yesterday.

Negeri’s campaign has been far from smooth. 

They are seventh in the standings on 15 points and trail leaders Kelantan by eight points. Their FA Cup campaign is over after losing 2-1 to Johor FC in the first round in Paroi.

Azraai said they have no room for any slip-ups and need maximum points from the next two outings to ensure their rise in the standings.

“Yes, playing well and scoring regularly is one thing but that does not mean you can compromise on discipline. 

“Players must learn to behave themselves and not get into unecessary trouble by picking up suspensions and leaving the team in a dilemma,” said Azraai.

Cameroon striker Owona is the leading marksman with nine goals but will pay a heavy price for his own folly after being slapped with a two-match ban and a RM3,000 fine for pulling Felda

United goalkeeper Mohd Hamsani Ahmad’s ears and for pushing S. Sivanesan on the cheek in a Super League match at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on Jan 21.

“Owona should understand by now that he is a marked man in the competition. 

“He should also understand the way the game is played here and cope with it. If he (Owona) can’t get along and continues to get himself into trouble, then, it leaves me with no choice but to look at other alternatives,” said Azraai.

T-Team determined to do well in Super League after FA Cup failure

After failing to get a place in  the semi-final of the FA Cup last night, T-Team have now shifted their focus on the Super League competition, determined to end up in the top five.

The Young Turtles squad lost to Kedah on a 1-2 aggregate in their second leg quarter-final match at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium last night. Both teams were tied to a scoreless draw in their first leg match on March 24.

T-Team coach Yunus Alif said the team's failure in its own backyard was a major disappointment.

"Last night's match was not the game that I wanted. It's a lesson the team had better learned in facing other matches," he told reporters here Wednesday.

Sports Minister wants players educated on the dangers of match fixing

Low wages should not be a factor for football players to be involved in match-fixing or bribery which has continued to tarnish the image of football in the country.

Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim said no reason should be accepted for players involvement in match fixing or bribery and efforts must be taken by those involved, especially the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to educate the players on the dangers of their involvement in such activities.

"If there are claims that low wages was a reason for players to be involved in bribery, I beg to differ because even highly paid players in teams like Juventus in Italy were said to be involved in match-fixing.

Kedah aiming to bring back glory days

Kedah's ability to beat T- Team from Terengganu and book a semifinal berth in the FA Cup is a sign that Kedah football is back to its glory days said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak.

Azizan said the Kedah team had shown a polished display in the 2-1 win although he was slightly disappointed with import player Hamidin Mohammed since  the player had taken a slightly longer time to get his act together.

"There is no reason to look back because I do not want a repeat of the inconsistency that had plagued the team in the past," Azizan who is also the Kedah FA President told reporters when summarizing Kedah's 2-1 win over T-Team in Kuala Terengganu Tuesday night.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Sime Darby continues giant–killing feats while Terengganu progress in FA Cup

Sime Darby FC continued their giant–killing ways in the FA Cup competition to enter the semi-finals last night.

The club side defeated Johor FC 2-1 in the quarter-final second leg at the Pasir Gudang Stadium to progress 5-3 on aggregate.

Liberian international Patrick Wleh was the toast of the Premier League side after scoring a brace in their return-leg. Ismail Zakaria’s team had won the first-leg 3-2 at the Selayang Stadium on Friday.

Sime Darby FC proved that their are no pushovers in the competition after having earlier knocked out Super League side Sabah and USM FC by similar 2-0 margins in the first and second rounds respectively.

Last night, Wleh was was a constant menace to the Johor FC defenders. The Liberian gave goalkeeper Mohd Anis Faron no chance with two long range attempts in the third and 20th minutes.

Johor FC reduced the deficit through an Ahmad Fauzi Shaari penalty 13 minutes from the end.

Johor FC coach K. Devan clearly missed the service of top scorer Arthuro Bernhardt, who has found the net nine times in seven matches.

The Brazilian had to sit out a one-match suspension.

Sime Darby will play defending champions Terengganu in the two-legged semi-finals on Apr 21 and May 1.

The Turtles held Singapore outfit Lions XII to a goalless draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the return leg yesterday, but progressed courtesy of their 1-0 first-leg victory in Kuala Terengganu last week.

In Kuala Terengganu, Kedah booked their semi-final ticket after beating T-Team 2-1 at the Sultan Ismail Stadium.

Ghana striker Hamidan Mohammed’s brace in the 64th and 81st minutes were enough to end T-Team’s hopes of going through to the semis for the first time.

Azrul Hazran Amiludin Baki’s goal in the 68th minute proved to be little more than a consolation for the home side. The first-leg had ended in a goalless draw.

In Kota Baru, goals from Mohd Norfarhan Mohamad (18th) and Nwoha Onyekachi (72nd) allowed Kelantan to beat KL SPA 2-0 and progress to the last four with a 5-0 aggregate. The Red Warriors will take on Kedah in the semi-finals.

FAM deputy president facing disciplinary action for criticising the national team

One FA of Malaysia (FAM) bigwig got off scot-free while another is staring at disciplinary action for the same offence – criticising the national teams’ performances.

FAM general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad escaped sanction for hitting out at the national Under-23 team’s performance in the Olympic qualifiers on March 16.

But FAM deputy president Tan Sri Annuar Musa, however, found himself in trouble for his comments on the poor performances of the senior national team on March 13.

FAM disciplinary committee chairman Datuk Taufik Tan Sri Abdul Razak said they found Azzuddin’s comment “not insulting”.

“The committee viewed the video on the comment and found that it was just a general comment,” Taufik told a press conference at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

“We also found that Azzudin has not done anything wrong as he is entitled to comment under article 88 of FAM’s statute, which clearly states that only the FAM president and general secretary can make such statements to the media.”

In Annuar’s case, Taufik said the committee have received the FAM deputy president’s reply and decided to postpone the hearing to April 4.

Taufik clarified that Annuar has been charged with violating article 88 of the FAM’s statute and for speaking to the media on official matters.

FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had, on Feb 4, issued this order at their executive committee meeting.

“Annuar has filed his defence and requested for a postponement of the hearing, which was supposed to be held on Thursday,” said Taufik.

“We have agreed to his request for the postponement as he has to attend a national-level programme in Kelantan with the Agriculture Minister on that day.”

Meanwhile, Negri Sembilan striker Jean Emmanuel Owona has become the first foreign player to be sanctioned by FAM this year.

The Cameroonian was slapped with a two-match ban and RM3,000 fine after admitting to pulling Felda United goalkeeper Mohd Hamsani Ahmad’s ears and for pushing S. Sivanesan on the cheek in a Super League match at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on Jan 21.

However, Owona escaped a third charge of slapping Felda United’s Mohd Hardi Jaafar on the back of the head due to insufficient evidence.

Nike programme to scout for new football talents in Malaysia

Sports wear manufacturer, Nike Malaysia today launched 'The Chance' programme aimed at scouting for new talents to become promising footballers in the future.

Joan Yeoh, Country Marketing Manager of Nike Malaysia, said the programme was expected to be much more exciting this year as more young footballers were eager to try their luck to become promising players in the future.

"We expect a total of 6,000 youngsters aged 16-24 will turn up to showcase their football skill in front of the panel of judges appointed by us," she told reporters after the launching of the programme by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Secretary-General Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad at Wisma FAM here, Tuesday.

FAM general secretary found not guilty of critising the Olympic squad

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Disciplinary Committee today freed FAM general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad from allegations of openly critising the national Olympic squad's performance through the media recently.

Chairman Datuk Taufik Abdul Razak said a study of video recordings and news reports found that Azzudin was not guilty and only issued a general statement.

 "The committee is satisfied that the statement made by Azzuddin did not contradict with article 4.5.8  of 2011 FAM Code of Ethics in which the statement did not insult the national Olympic squad and FAM as the main football body in the country.

Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Sime Darby progress to semi finals of FA Cup

Defending champions Terengganu are among four teams that booked tickets to the FA Cup semi-finals after the second leg quarter-final matches Tuesday night.

Terengganu are through with 1-0 aggregate at the expense of Lions XII from Singapore even though they drew goalless in the first leg quarter-final match at Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore.

In the first leg quarter-final match on Saturday, the squad of coach Mat Zan Mat Aris won 1-0 at Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, Kuala Terengganu. Terengganu's only goal was scored by Joseph Kalang Tie.

Neighbours Kelantan also made it after winning 2-0 over SPA FC at  Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium, Kota Bharu.

Kedah also qualified for the FA Cup semi-final after edging T-Team 2-1 at  Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, Kuala Terengganu.

Premier League side Sime Darby scored an upset to reach the last four for the first time after beating Super League side Johor FC 5-3 on aggregate.

The match at  Pasir Gudang Stadium saw Sime Darby winning 2-1.

Sime Darby under coach Zakaria Ismail won 3-2 over Johor FC in the first leg quarter-final match at Selayang Municipal Council Stadium on Saturday.

The semi-finals matches on home and away basis will be played on April 21 and May 1.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Brazilian striker Arthur Henrique in red hot form for Johor FC

Seven goals in five matches have made Brazilian Arthur Henrique the envy of many as Super League outfit Johor FC battle Premier League side Sime Darby in a late afternoon first-leg FA Cup quarter-final match at the Selayang Stadium tomorrow.

The lanky Henrique, 28, scored four of the seven goals in the FA Cup matches  -- against Negri Sembilan in the first round and five-time champions Selangor in the second round - winning 2-1 and 5-4 in sudden death penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw in extra-time respectively.

Henrique has scored in every match for Johor FC since he made his  debut against Sarawak in a Super League match in Pasir Gudang on Feb 14, although he was on the losing side with the East Malaysians scoring a come-from-behind 2-1 win in Pasir Gudang.

The Brazilian, who stands at 1.90m, however, has found his niche in the FA Cup -- scoring a brace against Negri in the first round. Against Selangor, he set up one and scored one as Johor FC fought back from 2-0 down despite playing with 10 men after 17 minutes. He also netted in the shootout.

Henrique  scored the fastest goal in the Super League this season when he found the net after only 35 seconds against T-Team in Johor FC's 3-1 defeat at home last Saturday.

Sime Darby knocked out  Sabah 2-0 in the first round. In the second round, they  beat another Premier League outfit USM FC (2-0) for a place in the quarter-finals.

Malaysian coach to experiment with more players to prepare for AFF Cup

K.Rajagobal's tinkering with the national squad has broadened the talent available to him for the AFF Cup title defence later this year to 66 players and more could be added in the months ahead.The national coach has defended the constant changes he has made to his squad for international matches, a run which stands at seven games without a win, and said this is necessary to cover for injuries and loss of form.

In the 2011 calendar year, Rajagobal utilised 49 players in 10 international matches with 21 of those earning their first cap before Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor became the latest to make his senior international in the 1-1 draw with Philippines on Feb 29.

"This has been the recipe for our success. I know I have taken risks before like against Australia (which we lost 5-0) but it is only by playing against strong teams can you see the character of the players.

"Only then will I know who can play and who cannot. I cannot just be relying on the same 20 players for every game," said Rajagobal at a press conference in Shah Alam yesterday before the national team leave for Kuching today for a friendly against Sarawak tomorrow.

The Sarawak game was planned at the last minute so Rajagobal can test more players with only those not involved in this weekend's FA Cup quarter-final ties called up, including four reporting for national training for the first time.

Rajagobal's honeymoon period with Malaysian fans following the 2009 Sea Games and 2010 AFF Cup successes ended with the World Cup qualifying elimination by Singapore last year.

But the national coach called that defeat a blessing in disguise after Singapore went on to lose all six of their group stage matches, including a recent 7-1 hammering by Iraq.

"If we had gone through and lost 7-1, I know I would be 'dead' and would not be here talking to you. I knew the team were not ready for the next stage and if we had qualified for the next round and lost 5-0, 6-0, it would have served no purpose.

"We can take criticism but as long as we are moving in the right direction, success will come to the team," said Rajagobal.

Terengganu and T-Team looking for confidence boost in FA Cup

The Turtles are looking to bounce back from the midweek AFC Cup loss to Hong Kong’s Kitchee by chalking up a convincing win over Singapore Lions XII in the FA Cup quarter-final first leg at Sultan Ismail Stadium tonight.

Coach Mat Zan Mat Aris wants Terengganu to score a hatful of goals so that they can take a comfortable lead to Singapore for the return leg.

“This is, by far, our sternest test as we are the defending champions. The Lions are on song but we will not be deterred,” he said.

Terengganu’s task has been made more difficult because of several injuries.

Captain Marzuki Yusof, Reshafiq Alwi and Ahmad Nordin Alias are long-term casualties while striker Abdul Manaf Mamat is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered in the match against Kitchee.

“Striker Francis Forkey Doe, midfielders Erison Da Silva and Shukor Jusoh are also doubtful. If these three are ruled out, we may have to rely on our reserves for the match against the Lions XII,” said Mat Zan.

Another Terengganu side, T-Team, are hoping to continue their fine record against Kedah when they meet in the FA Cup quarter-finals in Alor Setar tonight.

Yunus Alif’s club side have yet to lose to Kedah since last season’s Super League, with the latest win being the 3-0 drubbing at the Sultan Ismail Stadium earlier this season.

A confident Yunus wants his men to beat Kedah by two goals in today’s first-leg.

“This is the first time we are in the Cup quarter-finals so we naturally want to do well. But it won’t be easy as Kedah are an experienced side,” he said.

Yunus said T-Team have done well this season and he aims to win at least one Cup this season.

Sime Darby beats Johor FC in first leg of quarterfinal in FA Cup

Club side Sime Darby scored a narrow 3-2 victory against Johor FC in their first leg quarterfinal match at the Selayang Municipal Stadium, here Friday.

Azmirul Azmi scored the opener for Sime Darby in the fifth minute before teammate Razali Umar Kandasamy made it 2-0 in the 38th minute.

Johor FC, however, regained their composure and managed to reduce the deficit in the 44th minute through Brazilian import Arthur Henrique Bernhardt but Sime Darby's Liberian import gave his team a comfortable cushion again with a goal in the 70th minute.

Johor FC's second goal came from Henrique Bernhardt in the 85th minute.

Their second leg match is on March 27 at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council stadium.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

KL Spa FC aiming to upset Kelantan in FA Cup

Giant killers KL SPA FC have set their sights on the scalp of Super League champions Kelantan in their FA Cup quarter-final at the National Stadium on Saturday.

The amateur team, who evolved from the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) recreational club, made history by becoming the first FAM League side to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals after edging out Cambodian club Preah Khan Reach 1-0 on March 10.

No third-tier team have ever made the quarter-finals since the tournament was opened to FAM League sides in 1994.

KL SPA coach Mohd Nizam Jamil said his players were eager to prove themselves against their much heralded opponents Kelantan.

“Football is not mathematics. There’s no guarantee that a top division side will always beat the lower teams,” Nizam said yesterday.

“In fact, Kelantan will be under pressure as they have played three games in 10 days and lost some of their players to injury. However, they have a squad of 25 quality players and can’t be taken lightly.

“We are looking forward to the experience of playing one of the best teams in the country. We have nothing to lose at this stage and will try to savour the moment.”

KL SPA, who beat Premier League side Johor MBJB 3-0 in the first round on Feb 18, are also going great guns in the FAM League. They have collected nine points from three matches to lead the nine-team league.

“We are basically amateurs, but some of our players have played with the state teams while others are from the Bukit Jalil Sports School,” said Nizam.

“Our main target is to secure promotion to the Premier League and our outing in the FA Cup will be a great exposure to the players.”

Terengganu coach upset with team's defeat to Hong Kong club in AFC Cup

East Coast giants Terengganu paid the price for complacency in the 2-0 defeat to Hong Kong champions Kitchee in the AFC Cup at the Sultan Ismail Stadium.

Coach Mat Zan Mat Aris, who was clearly upset with his team’s dismal performance, said his players were guilty of careless mistakes, especially in defence.

“Our turnover rate was unbelievable and it gave Kitchee many opportunities to attack,” he said. “We gave away the ball cheaply despite controlling the game.”

Mat Zan said the forwards also lacked focus, failing to convert countless chances.

“We could have scored two or three goals,” he said. “The team let the fans down … we let ourselves down.

“I expected more, especially after our big win over Sabah last week.”

Mat Zan did not rule out the possibility that the players were suffering from fatigue due to the hectic schedule.

Selangor rue wasted chances against Singapore

Selangor skipper Amri Yahya was left ruing what might have been had he taken his chances against Singapore Lions XII in the Super League.

His profligacy resulted in Selangor being held to a 1-1 draw by the Lions XII at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday.

The Lions XII’s took the lead through striker Sufian Anuar in the 61st minute before Croatian striker Bosko Balaban equalised for the Red Giants 20 minutes later.

Amri, who was gunning for his 101st goal for Selangor, could have put his name on the scoresheet but his header was brilliantly turned away on the goal-line by defender Shakir Hamzah.

“I’m frustrated and angry with the result. If my header had gone in, the outcome would have been different,” said Amri.

“We played well, had the lion’s share of possession and created more chances … but we still ended up with a draw.

“We should have won but luck wasn’t on our side.

“Last season, we played poorly but still won some matches.

“This season we are playing good football but can’t seem to win.”

The draw saw Selangor climb up to fifth in the standings with 16 points from 11 matches.
Perak, who have a game in hand, also have 16 points but are sixth with an inferior goal difference.

The Red Giants, who were knocked out by Johor FC in the second round of the FA Cup on March 10, are now looking ahead to their next league match against Sabah on March 31.

Amri said they would continue to work harder in training ahead of their trip to the Likas Stadium.
“It won’t be easy to beat Sabah in front of their home crowd but we can do it if we buck up,” said the 31-year-old attacking midfielder.

Police detain Johor FA official on match fixing allegations

Johor police detained a Johor Football Association (Johor FA) official two days ago in connection with the recent match-fixing scandal involving football bookies in the state.

Johor CID Chief Datuk Amer Awal said the official, a woman, would be remanded for five days to facilitate investigations.

"We received a tip off from another Johor FA official on Sunday that a woman official was connected to bookies and involved in match fixing.

"The official is said to be a friend of a police officer in Johor and investigations will be conducted under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) act," he said in a statement here Wednesday.

Monday, 19 March 2012

FAM deputy president issued show-cause letter over comments against national team

Tan Sri Annuar Musa is prepared to defend himself against charges of violating the FA of Malaysia's disciplinary code over his critical comments against K. Rajagobal's national team earlier this week. 

The FAM deputy president's candid comments on Monday about the poor performances of the national team have  landed him in trouble with FAM's disciplinary board, who will meet on March 29 over the charges against Annuar.

Annuar, who claimed he has yet to be notified officially of the charges, said he gave an honest appraisal of the national team when responding to a journalist's question.

"If someone asks for my opinion, even now, I will give it. I said I am not happy with the level of performance of our national team. To say otherwise would be dishonest.

"It is important for our national team to show continuous improvement and raise the performance to another level. This task is not just mine but for everyone associated with football including FAM.

"So to issue a showcase letter, which I have no knowledge about other than what you are telling me, when I am responding to a question by a journalist, will make us a laughing stock," said Annuar after the Universiti Teknologi Mara Sports Awards ceremony in Shah Alam on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, FAM general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad confirmed a showcause letter had been sent to Annuar, who is also the Kelantan FA president, to explain his comments.

"There has been a violation of statutes and disciplinary code and a show cause letter has been sent to Tan Sri (Annuar) on Friday.

"The disciplinary committee, which is an independent board with no conflicts of interest, will meet on March 29 to hear the charges," Azzuddin told Astro Arena while adding that Annuar has a week to reply.

Annuar said he stands by his comments and will continue to work to improve the level of football in the country.

"The level of football in our country is still very low. There is much to be done by FAM and myself and other interested parties such as the state FAs. We should not feel too proud with what we have achieved," said Annuar in reference to the 2010 AFF Cup title and consecutive Sea Games gold medals.

Kelantan retain lead while Terengganu continue chase in Super League

Kelantan defeated Perak 2-0 yesterday to maintain their three-point lead at the top of the Super League standings while Selangor and Terengganu impressed with convincing victories.

Defender Mohd Daudsu Jamaluddin scored after 12 minutes before Zairul Fitree Ishak added Kelantan's second in the 29th minute in Ipoh.

In the Klang Valley derby, Selangor overcame a resilient Kuala Lumpur   3-0 in Bukit Jali.

After a goalless first half, Bosko Balaban broke the deadlock when he headed in unchallenged at the far post for his third goal of the season in the 57th minute from Razman Roslan's cross.

P. Gunalan made it 2-0 with an overhead kick four minutes later before Amirulhadi Zainal got the third with a long-range strike in stoppage time.

Francis Forkey Doe's hat-trick earned Terengganu a 6-3 victory over Sabah in Kuala Terengganu.

The Liberian striker scored in the 13th, 15th and 78th minutes while Ashaari Samsuddin (fifth), Manaf Mamat (44th) and Joseph Kallang Tie (80th) added the other goals.

Sabah replied through Zainizam Marjan (35th), Brendan Gan (45th) and Rozaimi Abdul Rahman (68th).

In Kuching, Singapore's LionsXII edged Sarawak 1-0 in a match which was delayed 10 minutes in the first half for faulty flood lights.

Captain Shahril Ishak scored from a penalty after Sarawak defender Yosri Derma Raju elbowed him in the 73rd minute.

Terengganu lead LionsXII on goals difference with both teams on par with 20 points.

Hong Kong club Kitchee worried over Terengganu's pitch in AFC Cup

Francis Doe, the hot weather and an uneven pitch have got Hong Kong's Kitchee head coach Josep Gombau alittle worried ahead of their AFC Cup Group F match against Terengganu at Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium in Kuala Terengganu tomorrow.

The Spaniard, who was at the stadium with his players when Doe scored a hat-trick for Terengganu in their 6-3 home league win over Sabah on Saturday, said the Liberian striker is skillful enough to pose a real threat to the Hong Kong First Division leaders.

"We saw enough to know that Terengganu are a dangerous team when going forward and since we are also an attacking team, we expect the match on Tuesday (tomorrow) will be an explosive and high-scoring one," Gambau said when met yesterday.

Gombau, who arrived with his team in Kuala Terengganu on Friday, said apart from Doe, his players will also have to worry about the hot weather and the uneven pitch.

"It's about 17 degrees Celcius in Hong Kong at this time of year but here we notice the temperature rises to above 30 degrees during the day and we are going to play in the afternoon.

"We also noticed that the stadium pitch is not that good unlike what we are used to back home and that may just give the home side an upper hand although I still think that the match is going to be closely contested," he said.

The coach said his team had not been training well as the field provided for the team is sub-standard at best.

"We have decided to move our practice session today (yesterday) to the hockey stadium in town as the artificial pitch there is more suitable for us to train.

"But make no mistake, regardless of the conditions we plan to go back with three points," said Gombau, who steered his team to a 3-1 home win over Singapore's Tampines Rovers in the opening round match.

Meanwhile, Terengganu coach Mat Zan Mat Aris said the convincing win over Sabah might just be the tonic needed by his team to secure their second AFC Cup win.

"All this while our wins have always been by a single-goal but last (Saturday) night, we proved that we can win big as well and, hopefully, we will be able to do it again against Kitchee.

"Not many expected us to beat Song Lam Nghe An in Vietnam in the opening round but we did it away from home and this time we are going to take full advantage of playing at home," he said.

Mat Zan confirmed that first choice goalkeeper Sarbinee Allawee has recovered from his groin injury and is likely to start against Kitchee.

Malaysian league teams to play friendly matches against Indonesian teams

A series of friendly games to increase the rapport between Malaysian and Indonesian football teams will kick off on Sunday when Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan hosts Persebaya at the Paroi Stadium.

Indonesian Premier League club Persebaya, who have already played Malaysian opposition once this season, beating Super League champions Kelantan 4-3 on aggregate in December, will host the return leg in Surabaya on May 2.

Besides Negri and Persebaya, other matches will involve Perak against Semen Padang on April 22 in Ipoh and May 1 in Padang and between FA Cup winners Terengganu and PSM Makassar on June 10 in Kuala Terengganu and July 18 in Makassar.

Organisers Broadway Media are also planning to have Selangor play Arema while Kelantan have also been pencilled in for another match against an opposition to be determined.

The sixth match-up in the series will involve either Sabah, Sarawak or one of the four clubs in the Super League -- Johor FC, T-Team, Felda United and PKNS.

Broadway Media executive chairman Datuk Syed Ahmad Khalid said the series is intended to revive domestic football in Malaysia by getting fans to fill  venues when the Indonesian teams come to visit.

"Matches between Malaysian and Indonesian teams always arouse passions and it is not necessary for just English teams to come here to fill up stadiums. We believe that fans want to watch their teams take on Indonesian sides and they will be out in full force," said Syed Ahmad in a recent visit to Balai Berita to announce the planned matches.

"For now we have two ties involving Negri Sembilan and Perak confirmed and while the Terengganu and Selangor matches will be confirmed in due course."

Syed Ahmad added that Broadway Media aim to broadcast all the matches live on Astro Bintang's Channel 141.

"We hope that through this series it will help raise the profile of Malaysian domestic football. A number of teams have expressed interest in playing in this series and we hope to finalise the remaining matches soon," he said.

Selangor beat Kuala Lumpur regain form in Super League

There is nothing like a derby win to lift flagging spirits as Selangor discovered after a comfortable 3-0 win over Kuala Lumpur in Bukit Jalil on Saturday to get their Super League campaign back on track.  

Following their FA Cup exit to Johor FC, Selangor coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim unleashed his ruthless streak by dropping goalkeeper Norazlan Razali from the match-day squad against KL.

Norazlan, who spent the previous two seasons with the city side, was held responsible for Selangor's penalty shootout loss to Johor FC last week as G. Jeevananthan came into the Selangor line-up for his first start of the season.

Jeevananthan kept his team in the game with a couple of important saves in a goalless first half to deny KL's Stanley Bernard and Zakaria Charara before Selangor upped the pace after half-time and were rewarded with goals from Bosko Balaban, P. Gunalan and Amirulhadi Zainal.

"We needed to increase the tempo in the second half and when we did that, KL could not cope with us. This is a crucial win for us, very important after a stressful period.

"As a Selangor coach, stress is part of the job because every team that play against Selangor will play to the death. It's also the first time we have beaten a team below us in the table this season and at least we are keeping pace with the leaders," said Irfan after the match at the National Stadium.

Selangor moved up one spot to sixth but are still seven points behind leaders Kelantan and four adrift of Terengganu and Singapore LionsXII, who they meet in a fixture brought forward to tomorrow at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"We have to guard against complacency, the team took it easy after going 2-0 up. It is exactly what happened against Johor FC when we were also two-up. I hope with the two suspended players back, we will be able to improve on our performance when we play LionsXII," added Irfan, referring to defenders Ramez Dayoub and Bunyamin Umar.

For KL, it is a tenth game without a win in the league and a raging coach Razip Ismail gave his players a shelling in the dressing roon after the game as the city side collapsed after a composed first-half display.

"Which teams go ten games without a win? This is unacceptable and I told them that," said Razip. "The same mistakes keep happening. The first two goals should have been prevented but the defenders were nowhere to be seen.

"It's very frustrating because we did well in the first half and I told them Selangor would come at us. They needed to keep their composure but let their heads drop after the first goal."

Terengganu get big win over Sabah in Super League

Terengganu regained their No. 2 spot in the Super League after an exhilarating 6-3 win over Sabah at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu last night.

The handsome win helped the Turtles move a spot above Lions XII, who edged Sarawak 1-0 in Kuching, on goal difference. Both teams are level on points at 20.

Liberian hitman Francis Doe was the toast of Terengganu when he fired a hat-trick in the ninth, 13th and 77th minutes.

Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin (4th), Abdul Manaf Mamat (42nd) and Joseph Kallang Tie (89th) were also on target for Terengganu.

Sabah replied through Zainizam Marjan (33rd), Brendan Gan (44th) and Mohd Rozaimi Rahman (64th).

Kelantan stayed on top of the league with 23 points after a 2-0 win over Perak 2-0 in Ipoh with goals from Mohd Daudsu Jamaluddin (11th) and Zairul Fitree Ishak (25th).

Selangor prevailed in the Klang Valley derby clash with Kuala Lumpur with a 3-0 win at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Bosko Balaban (58th), P. Gunalan (62nd) and Amirulhadi Zainal (90th) scored for the Red Giants.

Malaysian coach Rajagopal to include new players for friendly against Sarawak

Pahang hotshot Mohd Azamuddin Akil is among the national team’s recruits for the friendly against Sarawak in Kuching on March 24.

The 26-year-old from Kuala Lipis has been in top form for Pahang, having scored seven goals in the Premier League.

National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal is preparing the team for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship in November. 

He has called up 24 players and left out some of the regulars to allow them to focus on their FA Cup quarter-final commitments with their respective teams.

The other newcomers in the national team are Shahruddin Yakup, Alto Linus (Sabah); Mohd Afiq Azmi (KL); Venice Delphi (Armed Forces); Mohd Zulharis Mohd Nor and Mohd Fauzan Dzulkifli (PKNS). 

Liberian striker Francis Doe scores hattrick as Terengganu thrash Sabah in Super League

After unconvincing performances and slim wins this season, Terengganu finally hit top gear by demolishing Sabah 6-3 at the Sultan Ismail Stadium on Saturday night.

The handsome win helped the Turtles move a spot above Lions XII, who edged Sarawak 1-0 in Kuching, on goal difference. Both teams are level on 20 points.

Liberian hitman Francis Doe was the toast of Terengganu when he fired a hat-trick in the ninth, 13th and 77th minutes. Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin (fourth), Abdul Manaf Mamat (42nd) and Joseph Kallang Tie (89th) added a goal each for the home team. Sabah replied through Zainizam Marjan (33rd), Brendan Gan (44th) and Mohd Rozaimi Rahman (64th).

Coach Mat Zan Mat Aris said his players have finally gelled together as a team.

“I have only recently assumed the role as coach this season … and of course, the players must adapt to my style of training compared to the previous coach Irfan (Bakti). 

“We have new players and they need time to gel but the big win showed what we can accomplish when we are in sync with each other,” he said.

Mat Zan said the performance against Sabah would prove the team’s detractors wrong and confirmed Terengganu’s status as genuine title contenders.

“We managed the big win without our main players such as captain Marzuki Yusof, Ahmad Nordin Alias and Reeshafiq Alwi. We are on a good run and the players are improving game by game,” he said.

However, Mat Zan conceded the team’s attacking display left big spaces for the opponent to exploit, citing Sabah’s three-goal reply.

“We are far from being at our best as our defence must be strong as well. 

“We must convert every chance we get and shore up our defence,” he said.

On the performance of Kallang Tie, who rarely starts for the Turtles this season after being one of the key players in the team’s triumph last season, Mat Zan said he was impressed by the Sarawakian winger and he insisted there was always an opportunity for him to be a regular in the first team.

“Jo (Kallang) is a very good player … he just have to prove his capabilities whenever we called upon him to deliver. 

“I am not ruling out the possibility that he can regain his starting position in the team,” he said.

Mat Zan added that the big win was the right motivation needed for the upcoming AFC Cup match against Hong Kong side Kitchee in Kuala Terengganu tomorrow.

“We will change our game plan against Kitchee … that is for sure,” he said.

Olympic squad draw with Albirex Niigata in Singapore league

The Harimau Muda boys failed to keep up their momentum in the Singapore League (S-League) when they were held to a goalless draw by Albirex Niigata FC at the Yishun Stadium yesterday.

The national Under-23 side, who had made a bright start by winning their opening two matches against Gombak United (2-0) and Tanjong Pagar United FC (3-0), had to be content with a point in their third match.

Head coach Ong Kim Swee said the boys were a spent force and barely had enough rest to recover from their last group match against Syria in the Asian Zone Olympic qualifiers, which they lost 0-3 to Jordan on Wednesday.

“It was difficult for my boys to cope with today’s match. We had barely 48 hours of rest due to the time zone difference travelling from Jordan. 

“Despite the jet-lag, the boys gave everything to earn a point. The good thing is that we have not conceded a goal in three matches,” said Kim Swee, whose boys will face Brunei DPMM FC next at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday.

The Harimau Muda, with seven points, are fifth in the 13-team league.

Pahang beat Kedah to win Charity Shield in Minister of Education League Cup

SMK Seberang Temerloh of Pahang lifted the Charity Shield when they edged SMK Tunku Anum of Kedah 3-2 in the curtain raiser to the Minister of Education League (MELC)-100PLUS Cup football competition in Gambang yesterday.

Mohd Shahrul was the toast of SMK Seberang Temerloh when he fired a brace, including the winning goal in the 65th minute after both teams were tied 2-2. 

Shahrul had his name on the score sheet earlier in the 23rd minute while Shahibul Qayyum Fadhillah netted the other goal in the 19th minute.

SMK Tunku Anum replied through Mazlan Mohd (sixth) and Mohd Firdaus Ismail (35th).

Sarawak-Singapore match marred by unhappy fans

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) will wait for the match commissioner's report before making any comments on the match between Sarawak and the Lions XII (Singapore) at the State Stadium in Kuching last night.

The Super League match between Sarawak and the Lions which saw the Singapore outfit win 1-0, was said to have been marred by fans who threw objects and fireworks onto the field as a mark of protest against the match referee who was said to be bias.

FAM secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad said the FAM would not be able to take any action before receiving the match commissioner's report.

Kelantan beat Perak to remain top in Super League

Kelantan tightened their grip at the top of the Super League table with a 2-0 win over Perak at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh, Saturday night.

The win enabled Kelantan under the tutelage of Bojan Hodak to collect 23 points from 10 matches.

Lions XII plummeted from the second spot due to goal difference despite winning by a solitary goal over Sarawak at the State Stadium in Kuching with the goal scored by captain Shahril Ishak in the 72nd minute.

Elsewhere, Selangor beat Kuala Lumpur 3-0 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Negeri Sembilan beat Kedah 2-1 at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi and T-Team upset Johor FC 3-1 at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council Stadium.

Armed Forces draw with MP Muar but regain lead in Premier League

Armed  Forces (ATM) remained in the lead of the Premier League although they only managed a 2-2 draw against MP Muar at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Muar Friday.

Coach B. Sathianathan's soldiers are with 22 points after today's match, two  points more than nearest challengers Pahang.

At the Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Paroi, Police played to a 1-1 draw against  Sime Darby with Patrick Ronaldinho putting Sime Darby ahead in the 2nd minute.

Elsewhere, USM FC edged Johor 2-1 at USM's Athletics Stadium in Penang,  NS Betaria edged Harimau Muda B 3-2 at the Hang Tuah Stadium in Melaka (afternoon match) while at the Selayang Stadium, Pos Malaysia were held to a 1-1 draw by Pahang.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Kedah coach Wan Jamak have no sentiments against former team Negeri Sembilan

Sentiments will be put aside when Kedah coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan plots the downfall of his former team Negeri Sembilan on his first return to the Paroi Stadium since his sacking last year.

With Negeri on a four-match winless run, today's Super League match provides Wan Jamak the chance to extend a resurgent Kedah's six-match unbeaten streak despite having several key players out through injury.

Wan Jamak was given the boot by Negeri after a poor start to the 2011 season and replaced by former Kedah coach Azraai Khor Abdullah who then led the side to Malaysia Cup glory.

"Moving from one team to another is a part and parcel of professional football. As a professional, my only focus is on ensuring Kedah wins tomorrow's (today) match.

"As they say the ball is round and may the best team win," said Wan Jamak, who declined the opportunity to reflect on his time at Negeri where he won the Malaysia Cup in 2009 and the FA Cup in 2010.

Kedah face a number of injury problems with Fauzi Nan, Abdul Latif Suhaimi and Ahmad Basri Wahid ruled out with ligament injuries while captain Baddrol Baktiar and Amar Rohidan are struggling with knee and thigh injuries respectively.

But Kedah have not lost since Wan Jamak returned from a seven-match ban imposed by FA of Malaysia last season for criticism of match officials and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals last week after beating neighbours Perlis 3-2 in Alor Star.

Kedah's improved form also can be attributed to the signing of Frenchman Abdulfatah Safi who has scored twice already since his signing along with Hamidan Mohammed of Ghana in place of Brazilians Danilo Vivaldo and Daniel Baroni last month.

The Ghanaian however appears to be living on borrowed time after being warned to start scoring.

"I have given Hamidan a stern warning to buck up. He has continuously failed to show a good performance. This is not the time for me to teach him how to score goals because if he came here as an import with a certain status, he should be able to show it," said Wan Jamak.

Negeri, who have not won since beating T-Team 2 -1 in Paroi on Feb 8, will have skipped Norhafiz Zamani Misbah back in defence after his absence through injury was sorely felt in a 2-1 defeat at Kelantan in their last outing.

Terengganu get benefits from many sponsors

The Turtles have attracted more than RM1mil in sponsorship this season.

The latest to lend their support to the Terengganu FA is telecommunication-prepaid provider Happy, who signed a one-year sponsorship deal.

Terengganu FA president Datuk Che Mat Jusoh said the support shown by Happy would help in the development of football in the state.

He said happy was the seventh sponsor of the Turtles this season after Specs, which contributed RM300,000, Top IT (RM250,000), Zaid Enterprise (RM50,000), Ekspress Perdana (RM50,000) and TFC.

“Our main sponsor is the state government but having others on board will certainly boost the morale of the team. Sponsors are important as their support is an indication of confidence in the team,” he said after signing the agreement between Terengganu FA and Happy at the Sultan Ismail Stadium here recently.

Meanwhile, four key players are expected to be out of action for the Super League match against Sabah today.

Che Mat said skipper Marzuki Yusof, Mohd Muhaimin Omar, Ahmad Nordin Alias and Reeshafiq Alwi have yet to recover from injuries.

Che Mat said the absence of the quartet would give youngsters Muslim Ahmad and Mohd Shukur Jusoh a chance to prove their worth.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Selangor striker Surendren determined to prove his worth

The Super League has almost reached the half-way mark but for Selangor striker R. Surendren, the season has only just begun.

The 29-year-old football nomad is expected to start for the first time after suffering a dislocated shoulder during pre-season.

“I had a brief taste of action in the FA Cup match against Johor FC last week. I came on for the last 10 minutes or so. But I’m fully fit now and ready to help put Selangor back in contention for the Super League title,” declared a spirited Surendren ahead of the Klang Valley derby against Kuala Lumpur at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow.

The Red Giants have not had a smooth journey in their campaign so far. Coach Irfan Bakti’s men are currently in eighth spot with 12 points from nine matches while their FA Cup campaign ended in the second round after going down to Johor FC 5-4 in the sudden-death penalty shootout last week.

Surendren said Selangor have always been top contenders and will remain so this season.

“We are only eight points behind leaders Kelantan. A string of good results should see us among the top three in no time,” said an optimistic Surendren, who is expected to partner Croatian Bosko Balaban upfront against KL.

“I’m raring to see action after such a long lay off. I feel comfortable playing with Bosko.

Hopefully, we will be able to deliver the goods,” said Surendren, who played a key role in the Red Giants’ treble success — Charity Shield, FA Cup and Super League — in 2009. 

He also 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 ever 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 Balaban, who has two goals to his credit.

Skipper Mohd Amri Yahyah was moved upfront following Surendren’s injury but 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 to lend support up front.

Kedah coach Wan Jamak unhappy with poor form of Ghana striker Hamidan

Kedah  coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan has issued a stern warning to his Ghana import, Hamidan Mohammed, who has not lived up to expectations in the M-League.

Wan Jamak issued an ultimatum to Hamidan to prove his worth during their Super League match against Negeri Sembilan on Saturday or incur his wrath.

The former Johor, Negeri Sembilan and national coach said Hamidan has yet to find his footing  and establish himself as a player who came with credentials.

"I have given Hamidan a stern warning to buck and play the role of back-up striker effectively.

He has continuously failed to show a good performance. This is not the time for me to teach him how to score goals because if he came here as an import with a certain status, he should be able to show it," he said here today.

He added that the warning was not to add pressure on Hamidan but merely want the player to raise his game, reduce the mistakes and assist the Kedah team to win matches.

Terengganu affected by injury problems against Sabah

Injuries to first choice players continued to plague Terengganu as four players are expected to be out of action for their Super League match against Sabah on Saturday.

Team manager Datuk Che Mat Jusoh said skipper Marzuki Yusof, Mohd Muhaimin Omar, Ahmad Nordin Alias and Reeshafiq Alwi, all first team players have yet to recover from injuries.

"Marzuki has undergone a knee surgery and still recovering while the three others are also nursing injuries. However, despite injuries to the four main players, we hope to pull through since we be playing against Sabah on home turf," he told Bernama here today.

Che Mat who is also the Terengganu Football Association president said the absence of the quartet would give youngsters Muslim Ahmad and Mohd Shukur Jusoh to prove their worth.

"Sabah's performance has not been consistent but we are not going to underestimate their strength," he said.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Malaysian coach Rajagobal not worried about poor form of team

National coach Datuk K. Rajagobal kept his cool when asked to comment on  FA  deputy president Tan Sri Annuar Musa's negative comments in regards to the recent yo-yo performances of his team.

Annuar, at the launch of a fan club forum in Shah Alam on Tuesday, questioned whether Malaysia were good enough to defend their Suzuki AFF Cup following a series of poor performances and also touched on the unacceptable excuses offered  from the  parties concerned.

"Tan Sri (Annuar) has his own  views and I do not want to comment on them. I've not been using some of my best players since our defeat to Singapore in the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers in July," said Rajagobal.

"I've tried about 50 players in recent international and club friendly matches. My goal is to get a bigger pool of quality players but to have that base I need to test them in matches.

"I would like to continue with my task of testing players for the next few months before I see my best available players for the AFF Cup. I will have the players in  mind for the AFF Cup, four or five months prior to the tournament.

"We will have several weeks to prepare for the AFF Cup after the Malaysia Cup final in October and I believe we will play some quality friendly matches then."

The AFF Cup, co-hosted by Malaysia and Thailand, is scheduled to be played between  Nov 24 and Dec 22.

A special ceremony was held at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya  to honour Rajagobal for his contribution to local football. He was honoured with the 'Outstanding Achievement for Sports' award, presented by the Malaysia Achievement Organisation (MAO).

MAO presented awards to several Malaysian high achievers last month but Rajagobal could not attend the ceremony due to commitments with the national team.

Critics have been harsh on Rajagobal for the recent poor form of the national team. Malaysia's last international victory was against Taiwan (2-1) in the first round of the World Cup Qualifiers and since then, have played seven 'A' matches and not won any of them.

The national team played their first international match of the season against the Philippines on Feb 29 where they needed an injury time goal from Shakir Ali to force a 1-1 draw.

Rajagobal admitted that it was tough for FAM to arrange 'A' international matches in view of the Olympics and the World Cup Qualifiers. The team, however, will play Singapore in a two-leg friendly tie in June.

"We have written to several FAs but some of them have replied that their national players were committed to either the domestic league or international competitions. We are, however, trying other avenues to get matches," Rajagobal added.

Malaysia complete Olympic qualiferis losing all matches

Malaysia wrapped up their dismal Olympic football qualifying campaign without a single point. 

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee’s boys fell to their sixth consecutive defeat in the Asian Zone Group C qualifying tournament going down 3-0 to Syria at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jordan last night. 

Striker Mardek Mardkian scored a brace (48th and 68th) before Omar Al Suma (80th) added the third. 

In earlier matches, Malaysia lost by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria before going down to Bahrain 3-2 and 2-1. On Feb 22, Malaysia suffered their biggest loss to fancied Japan 4-0 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. 

Asia has 3.5 slots for the 2012 London Olympics. The three group winners will win automatic slots while the runners-up will compete in a playoff, with the winner playing an African representative for the last ticket to the Games.

Terengganu wants their fans to behave during matches

Fans of the Turtles, famous for “welcoming” opposing teams by throwing plastic bottles onto the pitch have been told to behave for the AFC Cup clash with Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC on March 20. 

Terengganu FA president Datuk Che Mat Jusoh said any disruption caused by the fans would bring dire consequences to the team and FA. 

He said the FA could be fined US$5,000 (RM15,915) for each object thrown onto the field. 

“I hope the fans will be at their best behaviour and not throw bottles. 

“I respect their passion for the team but there are other ways of expressing it other than throwing bottles,” he asid at the FA headquarters here yesterday. 

Che Mat said the AFC Cup was a prestigious competition and the organisers have set a strict guidelines for teams. 

“The police, along with other enforcement agencies, will be on hand to ensure the match goes smoothly but I appeal to the fans to not resort to any wild behaviour. “ 

Tickets for the match would be priced at RM30 for the grandstand and RM15 for regular seats. Fans can buy the tickets at Stadium Sultan Ismail on March 19-20. 

Terengganu go into the second Group F match against Kitchee FC after dispatching Vietnam’s Song Lam Nghe An 1-0 in their debut match last week. The fourth team in Group F is Singapore’s Tampines Rovers.

PKNS wants to win more matches in Super League

Super League newcomers PKNS FC are a dismal 10th in the 14-team standings despite having lost only one match in their campaign. 

The former Premier League champions may have won only one of their nine matches to date, but seven of the other eight have ended in draws. 

Little wonder that other teams dread playing them as PKNS are draw specialists, who are ever so good at stonewalling their rivals. 

Head coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim said the club should be proud of their achievements in denying the top teams victory. 

“It isn’t a bad result for a newly-promoted club side as so many teams find it impossible to beat us. The fact remains that we have lost only once in nine matches,” said Abdul Rahman. 

PKNS lost their opening game to Johor FC 2-1 on Jan 10 and have been unbeaten ever since.

Their only win was 2-0 against Selangor on Feb 11. The drawn matches were against Kelantan (1-1), Kedah (0-0), K. Lumpur (1-1), Sabah (2-2), Terengganu (1-1), N. Sembilan (1-1) and Perak (2-2). 

PKNS are scheduled to play struggling Felda United at the MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya tomorrow. 

“I’m sure we will start winning in the coming matches,” said Abdul Rahman, who is looking to his strikeforce of Zambian Phillimon Chepita and local hotshot Rudie Ramli to show the way. 

The 31-year-old Chepita replaced injured French striker Dawood Nicoise on a short-term deal.

PKNS released Nicoise following an injury to his knee. But the Frenchman is recuperating in Kuala Lumpur and may be signed on again when the transfer window opens next month.

Terengganu denies allegations their players involved in match fixing

Terengganu Football Association President Datuk Che Mat Jusoh has denied rumours that his players were involved in match fixing.

Che Mat said Terengganu players were clean and not involved in any football bribery or match fixing as claimed by some irresponsible people who were out to demoralize the team.

He said some had raised doubts over the inconsistent performance of the Terengganu team in the Super League, FA Cup and Asian Football Confederation (AFC Cup) competitions.

"Outsiders should not make such negative accusations just to disrupt the team's spirit and momentum," he told reporters after announcing the Terengganu team's preparedness to face Hong Kong club, Kitchee FC in their AFC Cup match here today.

 Che Mat who is also the team manager said his players were upset by such accusations.

Malaysia coach to include youngsters to prepare for Suzuki CUp

National head coach Datuk K. Rajagobal will give young players an opportunity to showcase their talent in order to play for the national team that will play in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Rajagobal said he had enough time on his side after the Malaysia Cup to test the players before the tournament kicks off at two venues, namely Malaysia and Thailand from Nov 24 to Dec 22.

"We will play a number of friendly matches before analysing their performance. They must not presume that we are not giving them a positive chance," he told reporters when met at Wisma FAM here.

Malaysia are the defending champion of the AFF Suzuki Cup having won the tournament in 2010 by beating Indonesia 4-2 on aggregate.

The coach said his main target was to prepare a formidable team for the 2015 Asia Cup in Sydney, Australia.

Malaysia beaten by Syria in Olympic qualifier

The ongoing civil war in Syria failed to dampen the spirit of their Olympic squad who beat the Malaysian Olympic squad 3-0 in an Asia Zone Group C Olympic Qualifying match at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday.

In the Asia Zone Olympic Qualifier, Malaysia were drawn in Group C with Japan, Syria and Bahrain.

With the latest result, Malaysia had lost all its home and away matches to Japan, Bahrain and Syria.

The last time Malaysia qualified for the Olympics was in 1980 (Moscow Olympics) but did not play due to an US-led boycott of the games as a protest against Russia's invasion of Afghanistan.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Selangor coach Irfan Bakti worried about team's poor form

Irfan Bakti Abu Salim is facing up to the size of his task as he prepares an erratic Selangor side for their Klang Valley derby  against bottom-placed Kuala Lumpur in a Super League match on Saturday.  

Selangor are also having some pressing  issues that need to be solved immediately, as revealed  by Irfan.

"My boys need to be together. They need to do that if they want to win the league. I am, however, optimistic that we can do it," said Irfan yesterday.

"Some of them are selfish especially in the box and I am losing patience. They must start playing as a team."

On the KL match, Irfan said: "KL are peaking and they have some very good young players. We must show them respect."

Selangor, eighth in the league with 12 points from nine matches, were dumped from the  FA Cup last weekend after going down to 10-man Johor FC on penalties in Johor Baru.

Selangor were leading  2-0 but mistakes by their defenders and goalkeeper Norazlan Razali allowed Johor FC to draw level and force penalties.

"I will make changes but not major ones as several core players are  unavailable. Midfielder K. Gurusamy and Bunyamin Umar are both injured while Lebanese centre-back Ramez Dayoub is serving a suspension.

"As I am still very angry with Norazlan, I may opt to replace him with keeper G. Jeevananthan. We had no business losing to Johor FC, who played with 10 men  for about 60 minutes, so  I expect everyone in the team to show some urgency against KL," said Irfan.

As for KL, the Razip Ismail-coached side are languishing at the bottom of the table  with just one point but recent signs indicate  they are slowly gaining confidence.

The former Malaysia Cup champions earned their first victory of the season by thrashing Muar MC 3-0 in the FA Cup first round earlier this month before going down 3-2 to Kelantan in Kota Baru. Selangor, however, may have the slight edge, having won six of their 10 encounters against KL since 2007.

"It is a derby match and we must be at our best. My players must show progress or I may have no choice but replace them," Irfan added.

Olympic squad to play for pride against Syria in Olympic qualifier

The national Olympic squad will have nothing to play for except for pride when they complete their Group C Asian Zone qualifying fixture against Syria in Amman, Jordan today.

The team are bottom of the table after failing to earn points from their previous five matches and even if they beat Syria, their position in the group will not change.

Syria and Bahrain are in a neck-and-neck battle for the play-off spot behind group leaders Japan, who have qualified for the London Olympics, with nine points each.

The Syrians will definitely be firing on  all cylinders for goals and Malaysia must be wary of this.

Coach Ong Kim Swee left out several regulars in favour of  new faces  as he is using the match to test players for the inaugural AFC Under-22 Qualifiers  on June 23.

"I did not pick some of them as they will not be eligible for the Under-22 Qualifiers. My priority is to gauge the performance of the younger batch of players in this match," said Kim Swee yesterday.

"We did our best in the Olympic Qualifiers but our best wasn't enough to make an impression. It proves that we are not quite there yet but I hope my players have gained from the experience."

Among the new faces in the team are Sarawak striker Ashri Chuchu and Sabah midfielder Rozaimi Abdul Rahman.

The squad: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Muhammad Zubir Mohd Azmi, Ahmad Shakir Ali, Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, Ashri Chu Chu, Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Mohd Azriq Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham, Shahrul Mohd Saad, Mohd Affizie Faisal Mamat, Mohammad Amer Saidin, Mohd Fandi Othman, Mohd Irfan Fazail, Mohd Izham Tarmizi Roslan, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Muhammad Nazmi Faiz Mansur, Mohd Fadhli Mohd Shas, Mohd Azzizan Nordin, D. Saarvindran.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Coach Ong Kim Swee to test out new players against Syria in Olympic qualifier

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee will use the final Asian Zone Group C Olympic qualifying match against Syria in Jordan tomorrow as a stepping stone for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-22 Asian Cup qualifier.

The team’s Olympic dream has long ended after they failed to collect a single point from five matches, having lost by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain.

In Manama on Feb 5, Malaysia’s hopes of even qualifying for the playoffs hit the skids after they lost 2-1 to Bahrain. This was followed by a 4-0 routing by Japan at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Feb 22.

No wonder Kim Swee wants to use the match against Syria to start rebuilding his team for the inaugural AFC Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers, scheduled to kick off on June 23.

Kim Swee has opted for several new faces in his final 18 squad for the trip to Amman – including Harimau Muda A forward D. Saarvindran, Sarawak striker Ashri Chuchu and Sabah midfielder Rozaimi Abdul Rahman – in a bid to expand the pool of players and to expose them to higher levels of competition.

Midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and striker A. Thamil Arasu have been drop­ped from the trip with groin and toe injuries. The others players left behind are goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar, Nazi­rul Naim Che Hashim, Izuan Salahuddin and Mohd Ferris Danial Mat Nasir. 

Kelantan government and FA to build two separate stadiums

The PAS-led Kelantan government will go ahead on its proposal to build a new stadium although the Kelantan Football Association (Kafa) has planned a RM300 million stadium in Bandar Baharu Tunjong here.

State Human Development, Youth, Sports and NGOs Committee chairman, Datuk Abdul Fatah Mahmood said the decision by Kafa did not affect the original proposal by the state to build its own stadium.

"The more stadiums the better for the government's efforts to develop football in the state," he told reporters here, Monday.

Previously, Chairman of Kelantan economic planning, finance and welfare committee, Datuk Husam Musa had announced that the state government would build its own stadium through the privatisation of an integrated project in Bukit Merbau, Pasir Puteh.

Monday, 12 March 2012

SPA stuns Cambodian club Preah Khan Reach to progress in FA Cup

Public Service Commission’s (SPA) dream FA Cup run continued when they edged Cambodia’s Preah Khan Reach (PKR) 1-0 on Saturday to become the first FAM League side to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.

SPA, an amateur team, turned the tables on PKR, who fielded six Cambodian internationals, with their never-say-die attitude and their persistence paid off in the 52nd minute.

Zulkifli Affendi Zakri picked up a weak clearance in the penalty box before placing the ball past PKR goalkeeper Sar Saphea to record their biggest win and earn a two-leg quarter-final tie (March 24 and 27) against reigning Super League champions Kelantan.

SPA’s victory over PKR is their second over a professional side this season. In the first round, SPA thrashed Premier League side Johor Baru City Council 3-0.

It’s a feat that as far as coach Mohd Nidzam Jamil is concerned almost amounted to being “a miracle”.

“We’re all incredibly delighted especially to continue in the competition and at the same time create history,” said Nidzam after the match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“We want to enjoy this (win) before thinking about Kelantan. What makes this so special is that we hold daily jobs and only train after work.

“Our priority, however, is to earn Premier League promotion and not the FA Cup but doing well in it is a bonus and added motivation.”

Nidzam said the hard work and hours of training is the secret behind the club’s Cup run so far.

“PKR are professionals and of course physically and technically they’re much better than us. What made the difference for us was simple motivation.

 “My players showed character and their willingness to fight for 90 minutes paid dividends.

“Some of my players even suffered cramps in the final minutes of the match but I expected that to happen as we are an amateur side,” said Nidzam.

Former M-League players Nuraizat Abdul Aziz, Zulkifli Affendi, Sazali Suwandi and Noor Azizi Azman form the core of the SPA side comprising mostly former state President’s Cup players.

They have been competing in the FAM League since 2010.

On the match against Kelantan, Nidzam said: “It will be my team’s biggest match of the season.

They are like ‘Chelsea’ of Malaysian football and we need to be prepared to face them.

“We just want to enjoy our football and, hopefully, my regulars will be fit for this tie,” he added.

Olympic squad coach calls up Sabah and Sarawak youngsters for Olympic qualifier

Two youngsters from Sabah and Sarawak are set to make their international debut as national youth coach Ong Kim Swee rang the changes for Malaysia's final Olympic qualifier against Syria in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday.

With Malaysia's qualifying chances long gone, Kim Swee has taken the opportunity to blood new players in the last two games against Bahrain and Japan and will continue that tact against the Syrians, who need to win to pip Japan to the automatic slot to London from Group C.

Kim Swee said he intends to use several young players against Syria including Sabah forward Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, Sarawak winger Ashri Chu Chu and Young Tigers A goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi Roslan as preparation for the AFC Under-22 Championship qualifiers in June.

"We have a few players out injured and one suspended so it will give me the chance to test several others. I may field Izham though I still want to take Khairul Fahmi (Che Mat) with us.

"They still need time to form an understanding with the regular players in the team but I've seen positive signs in the new players and this augurs well for the AFC Under-22 qualifiers," said Kim Swee after watching his Olympic side beat Armed Forces 4-2 in a friendly match at Wisma FAM on Saturday.

Injuries have ruled out midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and striker A. Thamil Arasu while winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor is suspended. Other mainstays of the Olympic team including Muslim Ahmad and K. Gurusamy have been left out as they are not eligible for the AFC Under-22 tournament.

Instead, Rozaimi earned his call up after impressing by scoring twice for Sabah in the Super League while Ashri, 21, bagged nine goals in Sarawak's promotion campaign last year and has scored once in the Super League this year.

Malaysia have lost all five of their third round matches in Group C and suffered a 2-0 defeat to Syria in Bukit Jalil on Nov 23, just two days after winning Sea Games gold in Jakarta.

In Friday's friendly, D. Saarvindran scored twice in the second half after Fandi Othman's penalty and a fine strike by Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham gave the Olympic team a 2-1 lead.

Aidil Zaquan Radzak, with a deflected free-kick, and A. Varathan were on target for Premier League leaders Forces.

Kelantan coach wants Nigerian striker Nwoha Onyekachi prove his worth

Nigerian Nwoha Onyekachi has shown signs of improvement but he will have to shine in more matches if he wants to remain a Kelantan player come April. 

Coach Bojan Hodak said Onyekachi played well when he came on as a second-half substitute during the team’s 3-2 FA Cup win over Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. 

“Nwoha did well tactically. He’s improving and the fans realise this as they were cheering for him when he came on,” said Hodak.  

“This is probably because he is finally settling in with his team-mates. He played top level football before coming here. Unfortunately, he suffered a bad injury. I also found out that he hadn’t been playing competitive football after recovering. 

“The question now is whether he is good enough to stay with the team.” 

Onyekachi made his debut in the Super League match against Selangor at Shah Alam Stadium last month which Kelantan lost 2-1. 

The Nigerian’s appearance was a surprise not only to the fans but also to ex-coach Peter Butler, who claimed that he was unaware Kelantan had signed Onyekachi. 

The Englishman lashed out at the Kelantan management and it led to the termination of his contract last month. 

In the following match, against Sarawak in the FA Cup, Onyekachi was unimpressive and was booed by the home fans when he was subbed. 

Kelantan have three other imports – Nigerian centreback Obinna Nwaneri, Lebanese striker Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud and Ghanaian midfielder Dennis Antwi. 

Ghaddar and Antwi are only eligible to play for Kelantan in the AFC Cup. 

Hodak was critical of his defence for letting in two goals against Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. 
“KL didn’t have many chances but a lack of concentration by the defence allowed them to score two goals. These things shouldn’t happen to teams that are at the top of the league. Instead of a comfortable 3-0 win, the match ended 3-2,” said Hodak. 

Kelantan will face Kuala Lumpur SPA in the FA Cup quarter-finals.