Friday, 31 January 2014

Coaches of Sime Darby and Armed Forces unhappy over referees

It’s only been 15 days – and four matches – since the M-League kicked off, but already there are rumblings about the poor quality of refereeing.

Already two coaches – Sime Darby FC’s Ismail Zakaria and Armed Forces’ B. Sathianathan – are in danger of being hauled up by the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) disciplinary committee for criticising the referees during their teams’ recent Super League matches.

Ismail had voiced his displeasure after referee Mohd Nazmi Nasarudin awarded a questionable penalty in their 2-1 defeat to Kelantan in the opening match on Jan 18.

Sathia, meanwhile, criticised referee Suhaimi Mat Hassan’s error-filled performance after his side were knocked out 2-1 by Sime Darby in the first round of the FA Cup competition on Jan 21.

Last week, FAM disciplinary committee chairman Datuk Taufek Abdul Razak had instructed the rules and regulations committee to conduct a probe on the two coaches to see if they had breached Article 18 of the FAM disciplinary code.

Article 18 states that players and coaches cannot speak to the media without prior consent from FAM.

If found guilty, Ismail and Sathia face a minimum four-match suspension and a maximum two-year ban.

Surely something must be wrong with the standard of refereeing when you consider this: four red cards and 69 yellow cards have been brandished by the referees in just three rounds of Super League matches. That’s a total of 73 cards in 18 matches!

That works out to about four cards per game.

One match – a Super League clash between Sime Darby and Pahang played at the Selayang Stadium on Saturday – saw eight yellow cards being flashed, believe it or not!

Perhaps, Sathia and Ismail could have gone through the proper channels to voice their displeasure but one can’t just ignore the statistics either.

Ismail, who has yet to be officially charged with criticising the referee, said that he would lodge a formal complaint, together with video evidence, to FAM on the poor standard of refereeing in Kuching.

“It’s not a case of sour grapes ... we are not complaining because we lost to Sarawak,” said Ismail on Thursday.

“I accept my team’s defeat ... but the quality of refereeing is so alarming. We had two of our least aggressive players in the team getting sent off for dissent ... I find that very strange.

“I hope FAM will be more open to criticism. We are criticising because we want the standard of refereeing to improve ... it’s not a personal attack.”

Armed Forces beats Perak

Armed Forces rode their luck at times but B. Sathianathan had more than one reason to be thankful as his team held on to beat a young Perak side 1-0 in a Super League match in Selayang on Tuesday.

For one thing, it ended back-to-back defeats to Sime Darby in the FA Cup and PKNS in the league having opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Sarawak.

Forces also managed the rare feat of winning without their top scorer of the last two seasons, Marlon Alex James, who complained of pain in the back of his knee and was not risked.

Sathianathan also saw Juan Manuel Arostegui break his duck in the Argentine's fourth appearance and did not have to call upon captain Hairuddin Omar, who remained on the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury which has delayed his 2014 debut.

"It was a great game and Perak played well. We tried to get into our rhythm, which is what has been missing," said Sathianathan, whose team failed to fully capitalise on a run of four games all played at their Selayang Stadium home.

"Sometimes we were in control and sometimes we were all over the place. It happens early in the season and Perak being so aggressive gave us problems.

"It is a relief for me and the team. We have been under pressure mentally and psychologically. We can't always play well but today there were some good combinations.

"It's just that some times we make silly mistakes, make clearances when we should play it on the ground. But I told the players that as long they give their best, I'll be satisfied."

Arostegui scored the only goal of the match in the 19th minute when he turned in a rebound after Christie Jayaseelan's shot came back off the crossbar and it needed a fingertip save from Syed Adney Syed Hussein to prevent defender Spase Dilevski from diverting the ball into his own net and preserve Forces' lead.

Forces are one of five teams on six points after three matches and are placed third in the table behind Selangor and Terengganu by virtue of having scored one goal less with goal differences identical.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Selangor loses to Singapore LionsXII again

Francis Doe's late goal gave Kelantan sole possession of top spot and the only 100 per cent record in the Super League yesterday as title rivals Darul Ta'zim and Selangor slumped to away defeats.

Kelantan took advantage of the upsets to open a three-point lead after just two rounds of matches with a 1-0 win over Sarawak, who are the only team without a point, in Kuching.

Defending champions LionsXII maintained their unbeaten record against Selangor in five meetings with a 2-1 win at the Jalan Besar Stadium thanks to Khairul Amri Kamal's stoppage time header while Kuala Terengganu T-Team stunned Darul Ta'zim 1-0.

Malaysia Cup champions Pahang also came unstuck on the road when they were upset 1-0 by unfancied Sime Darby, who also struck the woodwork twice, in Selayang.

Liberia international Doe settled a tight contest at the State Stadium in the 90th minute when he tapped in Mohammad Ghaddar's cutback after the Lebanese forward was sent clear by a precise Badhri Radzi throughball.

Darul Ta'zim failed to capitalise on their opportunities at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium and T-Team, increasingly dominant after they broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute through Patrich Wanggai.

The Indonesian headed into the net after the ball looped up and over the visitors' defence when Evaldo Goncalves headed into the ground off a corner, just 12 minutes after Luciano Figueroa's shot bounced off the base of the post for Darul Ta'zim.

It was the second straight win for T-Team over Darul Ta'zim after their 2-1 win at Larkin in last year's Malaysia Cup.

LionsXII extended their unbeaten home record to 22 matches when Khairul Amri headed past Selangor goalkeeper Farizal Marlias from a corner-kick five minutes into injury time.

Selangor had been set to return with a point after Fitri Shazwan Raduwan's looping header over Izwan Mahbud in the 57th minute cancelled another header by Shakir Hamzah, also from a corner, a minute before half-time.

In Selayang, Pahang were left wondering what went wrong when two former Kuala Lumpur teammates combined to put Sime Darby in front five minutes after half-time.

Just two minutes after hitting the woodwork, Fahrul Razi Kamaruddin headed home left-back Farid Ramli's cross before Mahmoud Al Amnah also struck the frame of goal four minutes later as Sime Darby could have put the match to bed so much earlier.

Perak also left it late for their first win of the season after a stoppage-time strike by Brazilian forward Eliel Da Cruz Guardiano, making his first start, saw Terengganu beaten 1-0 in Ipoh.

Kelantan continue good form while Perak get first win

Kelantan maintained their perfect start to the Super League season after a late Francis Doe goal allowed them to edge Sarawak 1-0 at the State Stadium in Kuching on Saturday night.

The Liberian striker struck for the Red Warriors in the 90th minute just when the game had seemed headed for a stalemate.

Lebanese forward Mohammed Ghaddar, who fired a brace in Kelantan’s 2-0 opening day victory over PKNS last week, was the architect of the goal. Collecting a through ball from his skipper Mohd Badri Radzi, Ghaddar held off Ronny Harun before squaring the ball for Doe to tap in from close range.

Sarawak were the early aggressors but they had to wait until the 22nd minute before registering their first shot at goal. Serbian striker Milorad Janjus unleashed a long-range shot but it went straight into Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat’s arms.

The fast-running Sarawak attackers gave the Kelantan defenders a torrid time. Asri Chuchu managed to beat the offside trap in the 24th minute but was thwarted by Zairul Fitree’s last-ditch tackle.

Kelantan also had a narrow escape a few minutes later with Obinna Nwaneri clearing the ball off his own line after national goalkeeper Khairul had failed to clear a corner.

Khairul was beaten two minutes before half-time by a volley from Sarawak skipper Joseph Kallang Tie. But to Sarawak’s disappointment, the effort was chalked off for offside.

Kelantan’s best chance of the first half fell to Doe. Despite being unmarked in front of goal, he headed the ball straight at goalkeeper Sani Anuar.

Doe did put the ball in the Sarawak net nine minutes into the second half, but the Liberian was ruled offside.

Sarawak again held the initiative in the second period but failed to create any clear-cut scoring opportunities.

And the Crocs were made to pay for their profligacy when Doe struck in the final minute of regulation time.

At the Perak Stadium in Ipoh, the home side relied on a 90th minute winner from Eliel Guardiano to stun Terengganu 1-0. It was Perak’s first win of the campaign.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Selangor aim to win 2 trophies

Indonesia international Andik Vermansyah wants to emulate Bambang Pamungkas' achievements with Selangor as the midfielder hopes to end the former Super League winners' title drought in the M-League.

Regarded as one of Selangor's best foreign signings, Bambang led them to the treble in the 2005 season before parting ways two years later.

Known as the "Lionel Messi of Indonesia", Andik who did not play a prominent role in Indonesia's silver medal success in last month's Sea Games due to injury, chose Selangor over other offers, which included one from a J-League team, and signed a one-year deal.

"I have always wanted to play for Selangor. It has been one of my childhood dreams to play in Malaysia. Hopefully, I can contribute significantly in my first season here," said Andik after he was unveiled as a Selangor player in Shah Alam yesterday.

Selangor FA president Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim surprised fans yesterday by stating that his team's target was two trophies this season, considering that the Klang Valley giants have not tasted success since their Super League triumph in 2010.

When asked whether the target was achievable, newly appointed coach Mehmet Durakovic said: "We will try our best to do well. I really hope we can win something this season."

The former champions have five prolific goal poachers in A. Thamil Arasu, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Abdul Hadi Yahya, Afiq Azmi and Brazilian Paulo Rangel but do not have depth in the backline. Former A-League's Perth Glory defender Steve Pantelidis and Brazil midfielder Junior Aparecido make up the foreign signings.

However, Selangor may not have the services of Pantelidis and defender Shahrom Abdul Kalam on Saturday. Pantelidis has not trained for two weeks due to injury while Shahrom is down with dengue.

PKNS striker targets more goals

PKNS FC will not be short of goals in the Super League this season.

This is the assurance given by Liberian hotshot Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh, who has promised to complement his new striking partner from Croatia – Karlo Primorac, the 2013 Premier League Golden Boot winner with 28 goals.

“We will get the goals ... rain or shine,” warned Wleh, the club’s top scorer with 22 goals last season.

PKNS have strengthened the squad with a few new signings, including attacking midfielder Kim Dong-chan of South Korea and centreback Hamka Hamzah of Indonesia.

Wleh, who has signed a new two-year deal with PKNS until 2016, has vowed to score 27 goals this season.

“I have pledged not to miss a game this season. I want PKNS to finish in the top six in the Super League and win a Cup final ticket. The Super League is going to be really competitive, but we will be no pushovers and be among the title contenders,” he said.

“Karlo is a huge asset to the team. He is a good finisher and I like his style of play. He made an outstanding contribution with his former team, Sime Darby FC. I’m sure the two of us will make a big difference to the team.”

PKNS coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan has a balanced line-up and a good set of players, which include Mohd Nazmi Faiz and Mohd Fauzan Dzulkifli in the engine room and the likes of skipper Helmi Remeli, Es Lizuan Zahid Amir and P. Gunalan in defence.

Wleh wants his team to get off the mark in style when they open their campaign against Terengganu at the Sultan Ismail stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.

PKNS finished eighth in their Super League debut last season. In the FA Cup, they did well to edge Lions XII in the first round before crashing out to champions Kelantan (4-2) in the second round. They failed to get past the group stages in the Malaysia Cup.