Monday, 31 October 2011

SEA Games squad to be announced on Tuesday

The Malaysian SEA Games football line-up will be announced in two days' time as the squad will leave earlier than expected for Jakarta, said Olympic coach Ong Kim Swee.

He said the squad would leave for Jakarta either on Friday or Saturday as the SEA Games football tournament would start two days earlier than scheduled with Malaysia pitted against Singapore in the opening encounter.

Speaking to reporters after the Malaysian under-23 Olympic squad friendly against Laos at the Shah Alam Stadium here Sunday, he said the line-up would likely include injured players as he was optimistic that they would recover before the tournament kick-off.

The probable players, who are still nursing their injuries, are Muhammad Zamir Selamat, Gary Steven Robbat, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor and Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria.

On the friendly with Laos, Kim Swee said he was satisfied with the performance of his charges who came back from behind to beat Laos 4-1.

"Despite missing key players, we managed to beat the Laos national squad. However, we were a pale shadow of ourselves, in the first half.

"Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, who replaced the injured Wan Zack Haikal, lived up to expectations by netting two goals," added Kim Swee.

Laos stunned Malaysia when they opened scoring through Sangvong Phimmasen in the 21st minute.

However, Malaysia clawed their was back into the game in the second half by scoring through Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim (72nd, 77th minutes), Mohd Fandi Othman (62nd min) and A. Thamil Arasu (82nd min).

Shah Alam Stadium to be closed for repairs

The Shah Alam Stadium which hosted the Malaysia Cup final between Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu on Saturday will be closed for three months to facilitate upgrading works at a cost of RM4 million.

Shah Alam Mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar Mohd Atan said among work to be carried out involves the roof of the stadium, floodlights, electricity cables, toilets, field and meetings rooms.

"Basically the stadium is in good condition but we do not want to wait until the condition of the facilities deteriorate further. It is a proactive measure to ensure the stadium remains in good condition, especially the field," he told reporters after Shah Alam Municipal Council (MBSA) monthly meeting here today.

The Shah Alam which was officially opened in July 1994 had hosted numerous prestigious events, including events during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.

However, the condition of the field and some facilities in the stadium which hosted the Malaysia Cup final on Saturday, drew criticism from fans, media and officials.

Negeri Sembilan wants to keep Malaysia Cup winning squad together

Negeri Sembilan Football Association (NSFA) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has reminded his players to repel offers from other teams that may try to lure them with lucrative offers.

He issued the reminder following rumours that a number of Negeri Sembilan players whose contracts expire in November, have become the target of other teams who are prepared to offer better perks.

"I hope the players will not be attracted by unrealistic offers. I am not trying to stop them from leaving but I do not want them to be trapped by a similar situation that happened in the early 90s whereby players were offered high salaries and perks by some 'rich' teams.

"However, the teams later winded up their operation and some players were not paid their salaries for three to four months," he said here today.

Mohamad who is also the Menteri Besar said NSFA had never delayed the salary or incentives of players.

"Those who take up such offers must weigh such offers carefully because it is their career and future. It will be pointless to accept lucrative offers from teams that later cannot fulfill their obligation. We have heard many such cases in the past," he said.

However, when asked whether NSFA would increase the salary of players after their Malaysia Cup success, Mohamad said the FA has not made any decision yet.

"We are not going to rush into making a decision because we want players to play for the passion of the game and produce quality performances. If we continue to debate on salary increase there will be no end to the issue and football will be the loser in the end," he said.

As for coach Azraai Khor Abdullah, he said the former Kedah and national coach who took over from Wan Jamak Wan Hassan in March, still has a contract with NSFA and would be tasked to continue building a strong team.

He added that in line with the Football Association of Malaysia's decision to allow teams to sign import players, Negeri Sembilan would practice caution when signing these 'import players' next season.

Meanwhile, Azraai said his players would resume training on Wednesday after being given three days rest since beating Terengganu 2-1 to win the Malaysia Cup for the third time.

Coach Ong Kim Swee taking a gamble on injured players

Malaysian U-23 coach Ong Kim Swee may pick players with minor injuries for his 20-man squad for the Sea Games in Jakarta.
Those in the crock list are defender Amer Saidin, midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and strikers Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor and Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria but they are all responding well to treatment.

Malaysia, the defending champions, open their Sea Games Group A campaign against Singapore (Nov 7) followed by Thailand (Nov 9), Cambodia (Nov 13) and Indonesia (Nov 17).

"Those injured have a good chance of returning to full fitness during the Sea Games. I will assess their progress before naming the squad in one or two days," said Kim Swee. 
Malaysia earned a great morale-booster for the Sea Games by thrashing Laos 4-1 in their final warm-up match at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.

Laos led 1-0 at half-time but the heavy downpour after the breather helped Malaysia as they managed to score four goals.

Syahrul Azwari hit a brace while Fandi Othman and A.Thamil Arasu scored a goal each.

Kim Swee admitted he has yet to find the right combination in his team at the moment.

"I hope to get things right in training before we leave for Jakarta on Friday. I wanted to test strategies today (yesterday) but the rain spoiled my plans," added Kim Swee.

Malaysia Cup final attendance not affected by high ticket prices

The increase of ticket prices did not affect the attendance at Saturday's Malaysia Cup final as all 80,000 seats at the Shah Alam Stadium were taken up.
The FA of Malaysia's (FAM) decision to introduce a flat rate of RM50 per ticket initially angered fans, who wanted to boycott the final.

But the situation was defused when the Negri Sembilan and Terengganu FAs offered subsidised rates for tickets.

However, there were some unhappy fans who resorted to splashing paint at Wisma FAM and also hacking its official website.

Some even protested outside the stadium, hours before the final, but it was done in a peaceful manner under the watchful eyes of security officers.

Despite the initial protests from fans, FAM refused to budge from its decision to reduce the ticket price, stating that it was reasonable.

FAM, however, must stop making ad hoc decisions as its fickle ways are hurting local football. The other unpopular decision this season was the rescheduling of league matches to accommodate the national team's international friendlies.

The association must, before the start of the new season, draw up its international calendar (encompassing tournaments and friendlies) first before deciding the league fixtures. It is a standard practice for most associations affiliated to Fifa, and FAM must follow suit.

It is learnt, however, the local competition committee is having a tough time deciding next season's league fixtures as the concerned parties cannot commit to scheduling international fixtures.

The national body has also been guilty of over-protecting its match officials as those who criticised them openly were punished harshly, regardless whether their comments were valid.

Some league matches were marred by woeful refereeing and FAM must do something to improve its quality.

The association must work out a standardised formula to ensure next season's M-League is incident-free. The return of foreign players to the league will definitely bring the fans back to stadiums as some teams, with huge budgets, have started scouting for the best.


SUPER LEAGUE — Champions: Kelantan; Runners-up: Terengganu; Third: Selangor
PREMIER LEAGUE – Champions: PKNS FC; Runners-up: Sarawak; Third: Police
FAM CUP – Champions: Negri Sembilan Betaria; Runners-up: Johor MBJB; Third: Tentera Darat
PRESIDENT CUP – Champions: Kelantan; Runners-up: MP Muar FC
CHARITY SHIELD — Champions: Kelantan, Runners-up: Selangor
FA CUP — Champions: Terengganu; Runners-up: Kelantan
MALAYSIA CUP — Champions: Negri Sembilan; Runners-up: Terengganu; Semi-finalists: Selangor and T-Team; Man-of-the-match (final): Hairuddin Omar


M-LEAGUE (all competitions) — Abdul Hadi Yahya (Terengganu) 24 goals
SUPER LEAGUE — Abdul Hadi Yahya (Terengganu) 20 goals
PREMIER LEAGUE — Mohd Fitri Omar (MP Muar FC) 16 goals
MALAYSIA CUP — Hairuddin Omar (Negri Sembilan) eight goals

Coach Azraai inspires Negeri Sembilan to glory

It was a night to remember at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday as Negri Sembilan regained their Malaysia Cup title in dramatic fashion by scoring late goals in the last 10 minutes of the final to edge Terengganu 2-1.
Negri's victory is a great closure to the M-League season, which saw east coast teams - Kelantan and Terengganu - win the Super League and FA Cup respectively.

Just a few months ago, Negri were in the dumps, having finished eighth in the Super League, and the team, led by veterans Shukor Adan and Hairuddin Omar, were bracing for an early end to their season.

Coach Azraai Khor Abdullah even found it tough to name 18 players for league matches due to injuries. But the 59-year-old used the short break after the Super League to implement strategies and motivate his players.

It worked to his advantage as Negri bounced back in the Malaysia Cup. Negri's win, their third in the competition, also underlined Azraai as the best coach in Malaysian football.

Azraai may have led Kedah to double treble (Super League, FA Cup, Malaysia Cup) success in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons but his achievement with Negri would be remembered as one of the greatest comeback stories in local football.

His ability to transform a bunch of unmotivated and injured players into a formidable unit in just seven months after his appointment is an exceptional achievement.

It was also a sweet personal victory for Azraai, after having being axed as the national youth coach last July following internal wrangling upon the national Under-21 team's return from their maiden Slovakia stint.

Azraai was then left with only paperwork at the FA of Malaysia (FAM) head office in Kelana Jaya before the national body released him from his contract with compensation in March.

"I feel privileged. You always want to win, but the way we have won is what I am most proud of. This is the way we want to play football," said Azraai after the victory ceremony at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.

"It's a victory as a group and a very important one for me as a coach, but not the victory of my life. That will be in the future. I want to help Negri win more titles.

"This victory is not only a belated birthday gift for me but also a gift to the Negri FA for keeping fate in me during difficult times."

On Negri's dramatic victory in the final, he said the difference was that his team made fewer mistakes.

"I mentioned before the final, we would win the title in 90 minutes, and we did it in style. It was not luck... we pressed hard and forced Terengganu to make mistakes.

"Sharbinee's (Allawee) made goalkeeping errors and we took advantage of his mistakes but this is football. When I led Kedah to the 2004 final, my goalkeeper made a mistake which led to Perlis winning the title," said Azraai, who began his coaching career 20 years ago.

Azraai put the victory to tactical astuteness, surprising Terengganu by lining-up Shukor, a midfielder, in attack along with Hairuddin and attack orientated midfielders Kunanlan, Shahurain Abu Samah, Idris Karim and Abdul Halim Zainal.

The strategy crippled Terengganu's strikeforce as Manaf Mamat, Abdul Hadi Yahya, Ashaari Samsuddin and Joseph Kallang Tie could not create opportunities on a regular basis.

After Kunanlan's freak goal in the 81st minute cancelled out Ashaari Samsuddin's strike for Terengganu, Hairuddin's spectacular volley off a Shukor's cross four minutes from time earned Negri the title.

Azraai praised veterans Hairuddin and Shukor for their sterling show in the final.

"Hairuddin and Shukor used their experience to good use. Both veterans gave us the edge in the Malaysia Cup," said Azraai, adding that Hairuddin has not decided on whether to continue playing for Negri next season.

SEA Games squad may include injured players

Coach Ong Kim Swee may take his injured players to Jakarta for the men’s Under-23 SEA Games football competition, provided they have a good chance of fully recovering there.

 Kim Swee was referring to the quartet of defender Mohd Amer Saidin and midfielders Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Gary Steven Robbat and Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria.

“I have a few more days to decide on the team list for the Indonesia SEA Games,” said Kim Swee after his side beat their Laos counterpart 4-1 in a friendly at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.

“I hope Gary, Wan Zack, Amer and Wan Zaharulnizam will recover in time … but if they don’t, I might take along those who have a good chance of recovering in Jakarta.”

Meanwhile, Kim Swee slammed his players’ complacency in the friendly against Laos, which was the team’s final preparation for the SEA Games.

Malaysia had to stage a comeback in the second half after going a goal down to Laos’ Sangvonie Pnomsoovan in the 20th minute.

Rightback Fandi Othman equalised for Malaysia in the 62nd minute before going 3-1 up, thanks to a brace by winger Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim (72nd, 77th).

Striker A. Thamil Arasu then added the fourth goal in the 82nd minute before the match was ended three minutes early due to the water-logged pitch.

“The players took it easy … we must not have this kind of attitute,” said Kim Swee.

“We bounced back in the second half to win the match but the players must remember that it won’t be easy to make a comeback against tougher opponents.”

Kim Swee is expected to name his squad to Jakarta on Wednesday.

Defending champions Malaysia have been drawn in the “Group of Death” with hosts Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia in Group A.

They will leave for Jakarta on Saturday and open their Group A campaign against Singapore on Nov 7, followed by Thailand (Nov 9), Cam-bodia (Nov 13) and Indonesia (Nov 17). All the matches will be played at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

Vietnam, the losing finalists in the Laos Games two years ago, are in Group B with Myanmar, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Laos and Brunei.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Negeri Sembilan win second Malaysia Cup in 3 years

Negeri Sembilan's two-year  wait for the Malaysia Cup ended with a 2-1 victory against Terengganu at the Stadium Shah Alam, here Saturday night.

Hairuddin Omar emerged the hero for the Hoben Jang Hoben team after scoring the winning goal, breaking the 1-1 deadlock earlier in the game.

The last time Negeri Sembilan won the Cup was in 2009, beating Kelantan 3-1.

Playing in front of 70,000 supporters, both teams went on the offensive right from the starting whistle but no goals were forthcoming.

Negeri Sembilan could have scored first in the early minutes of the game but Hairuddin's attempt only managed to rock the goal post.

In the 23rd minute, Terengganu's sensational striker Abdul Manaf Mamat shook off his markers and made a shot pass Negeri Sembilan's goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias but the shot hit the bar.

A minute later, Negeri Sembilan launched a counter-attack which found S. Kunanlan inside the box but his shot went wide.

Terengganu finally found the much-awaited goal after the breather.

Abdul Manaf made an overlapping run in the flank before executing a well-calculated through pass which found Ashaari Samsudin inside the box.

Ashaari made no mistake with his grounder and put his team ahead 1-0 in the 59th minute.

Negeri Sembilan was unperturbed by the deficit and managed to level the score in the 81st minute through Kunanlan after miscalculation by the Terengganu goalkeeper, who failed to catch the ball which bounced from the ground off a lob from the striker.

Five minutes later, Hairuddin received a cross from the right and executed a scissor kick that brought home the winning goal.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin presented the Cup to the winning team. Hairuddin was named Man of the Match.

Mixed feelings for Hairuddin Omar after beating his home state Terengganu

It was a bittersweet Malaysia Cup final for Negri Sembilan striker Hairuddin Omar against Terengganu at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.
The 32-year-old, who has been troubled by a knee injury which kept him out from most of Negri's Super League matches this year, achieved a rare feat of scoring in and winning three consecutive Malaysia Cup finals which, however, came at the cost of his home state.

The Setiu-born player said he was delighted to help Negri to their second title in three years but was also sad to see Terengganu fans go home devastated.

"It really was a team effort and I don't deserve to be singled out for praise. I feel I am very lucky to have won again this year and to be able to score in three finals is like a dream for me," said Hairuddin, who scored the winning goal yesterday.
"Having said that, I do wish to apologise to the whole of Terengganu and hope they understand that it is my job to give 100 per cent to the team I am with."

The veteran, who has been contemplating retirement after his struggles with injury, said he felt he had come full circle with his fourth Malaysia Cup victory. He won his first title with his home team Terengganu in 2001.

"I am happy with the win today as I feel that I have come a long way since my first win in 2001 and am a lot more mature now, having gone through a lot of success and also injuries.

"I am not sure whether I will retire at the end of the season yet. My contract with Negri ends in November and I will discuss with the management when the time comes and we will see how things go."

Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu fans create carnival atmosphere in final

Great expectations and excitement filled the air at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday as more than 80,000 fans flooded the Shah Alam Stadium hours before kick-off.
The Malaysia Cup final, which saw both Terengganu and Negri Sembilan looking to clinch the most prestigious trophy in Malaysian football, drew a near-capacity crowd after tickets issued to the state associations were sold out long before match day.

The scenes in the car park were like a carnival atmosphere with fans enjoying themselves amid many stalls selling food and football paraphernalia with loud music blaring in the background.

Fans, many of whom were face-painted with Negri Sembilan (yellow-black) or Terengganu (white-black), colours, also donned spectacular costumes.
They exchanged friendly banters with one another, even with rivals.

The crowd, who were in great spirits, despite the formidable presence of enforcement officers, had waited patiently at the stadium grounds as early as 2pm before the gates opened three hours later.

Once inside, the Terengganu half of the venue was filled up quickly as many of their fans had made the long journey to Shah Alam a day before the match.

At the other end, the Negri Sembilan supporters took their time as they trickled into their half.

The rival fans wasted no time in unfurling banners among them which read "Penyu Mengamuk Lagi" (turtles on the warpath again) and "Hobin jang hobin".

The stadium soon reverberated to the tune of more than 70,000 fans who cheered, sang and waved their state flags with full fervour amid drums beating in the background.

The fans were also entertained with performances from cheerleaders and also a marching band.

The stadium erupted into cheers as the players from the two teams took their turns to inspect the field, which looked lush green in some areas but patchy in other places.

Among the VIPs who turned up for the Malaysia Cup final were Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

Hairuddin Omar's spectacular goal wins Malaysia Cup for Negeri Sembilan

Hairuddin Omar's spectacular half-volley four minutes from time earned Negri Sembilan their third Malaysia Cup title as they came from behind to edge Terengganu 2-1 at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.

Hairuddin, who was named Man-of-the-Match, timed his run brilliantly in the box before reaching out to captain Shukor Adan's cross to score from close range after S. Kunanlan's in-swinging cross was misjudged by Terengganu keeper Sharbinee Allawee before hitting the back of the net for the equaliser in the 80th minute.

Ashaari Samsuddin had put Terengganu in the lead when he rifled home a pass from Manaf Mamat, in the 59th minute.
As for Negri coach Azraai Khor Abdullah, his fourth title as a coach was a belated birthday present for himself as he turned 59 on Tuesday.

"What can I say about this win? When I took over as coach seven months ago, Negri were not doing well...and today (yesterday) they are Malaysia Cup champions. I am proud of my players," said Azraai.

"We were a better team throughout but our urgency in the final 20 minutes was the key to our win. My players gave their 100 per cent and as for Hairuddin, he made the difference to our campaign."

Azraai surprised many by playing Shukor, a midfielder, upfront along with Hairuddin and the move paid dividends as his captain's tireless work rate and experience caused all sorts of problems to Terengganu.

"I was confident that we would win as Terengganu seemed tensed as they were the favourites here. Anyway, I am so happy today (yesterday) as this is my first time winning the Malaysia Cup as captain," said Shukor.

Terengganu coach Irfan Bakti said poor finishing led to their defeat.

"We managed to create chances after Negri had levelled but we failed to capitalise on them. I do not want to blame any of my players for this defeat as everyone played well," said the disappointed coach.

Azraai opt for a strong defensive and midfield line-up, which restricted Terengganu's movement. Negri seemed to have won the midfield battle as they created opportunities early in the match.

Hairuddin almost took advantage of Terengganu's defensive slip-up after 44 seconds but his powerful shot went across the goal-mouth.

But as the game went on, Terengganu managed to find their footing in the match and came close in the 23rd minute when Manaf Mamat found space in Negri's penalty box but his attempt, which flew just over the finger tips of goalkeeper Farizal Marlias, rattled the crossbar.

The quick legs of S.Kunanlan, along the left flank, and the experience of Hairuddin and captain Shukor Adan gave Terengganu defenders and goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee some anxious moments.

Terengganu relied on quick breaks and from one of those exchanges, Negri were caught back-pedalling when Manaf found space at the edge of the box only to be fouled by centre back Aidil Zafuan Radzak, who subsequently received a yellow card from referee Shokri Nor.

Negri started more on the offensive after the breather. Shukor the found energy to outpace substitute defender Helmi Remeli, who came on for Mazlizam Mohamad, but the 32-year-old's powerful rising shot hit the side netting.

Terengganu's policy to play quick counter attack football paid off in the 59th minute. Manaf collected the ball from the middle of the field and used his speed to good effect to outpace several players before his pass, which deflected off a Negri defender, found Ashaari, who in turn rifled the shot past keeper Farizal for a 1-0 lead.

That goal changed the tempo of the match as both teams played in furious pace with the desperate Negri side determined not to go home disappointed after last year's failure in the final.

And Negri were rewarded courtesy of a mistake by goalkeeper Sharbinee, who allowed Kunanlan's in-swinging cross past him in the 80th minute.

Hairuddin then scored the winner, his eighth goal in the competition in the 86th minute to hand Negri the title.

Match winner Hairuddin Omar describes goal as best ever

Negri Sembilan striker Hairuddin Omar described his spectacular scissor-kick goal as the best ever.

The 32-year-old football nomad said it happened so fast and he had react instinctively to go acrobatic to connect the low cross from skipper Mohd Shukor Adan for Negri’s winning goal against Terengganu (2-1) in the Malaysia Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.

“It is the best goal ever and I have scored in the previous two finals, too. But nothing beats this fantastic strike in front of the 80,000 fans,” said Hairuddin.

Hairuddin holds the distinction of having won three Malaysia Cup winners medal since 2009.

He won it with Negri in their 3-1 win over Kelantan (2009). The following year he featured for Kelantan and scored in their 2-1 win against Negri.

“I can still score goals and as along as my legs don’t give way, I will continue to do what I do best,” said Hairuddin, who has nine goals in the Malaysia Cup competition.

Hairuddin said his persistence paid off.

“I was frustarted after Terengganu clamped down on me throughout the match. They were breathing down my neck and I could not get my act right. But I knew it will just take a moment of brilliance to score. And it came four minutes from time,” said Hairuddin.

Negri coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah was full of praise for his seasoned hands – Idris Karim, 35, Hairuddin, 32 while Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Mohd Shukor Adan, Irwan Fadli Idrus are all in the 30’s.

“They are my wise men and they have proved that with proper training and a little bit of sports science assistance they are still worth the money,” said Azraai, who celebrated his 59th birthday on Tuesday.

“It is wonderful birthday gift and I am happy for the whole Negri team. We had our ups and downs due to injury problems but in the end we proved that we are still champion material,”.
 Azraai said he knew they would wrap up the game in 90 minutes.

“We kept on pressing even thouugh we went behind 0-1 at the hour mark. And this is where experience comes in and all my seniors players did well in their positions. I must salute our inspirational skipper Mohd Shukor. He was everywhere on the field.

“It gives me great satisfaction working with this mixed team of young and senior players. Many said that I won the double treble with Kedah because of the foreign players. Now I have proven them all wrong.

“My credit goes to Terengganu, too. They did well to win the FA Cup. In fact, many had predicted Terengganu to win but I knew that Negri can win it because of our experience,” said Azraai.

Negeri Sembilan come back from behind to win Malaysia Cup

Negeri Sembilan-Malaysia Cup2011

Hairuddin Omar scored a spectacular scissor-kick goal four minutes from time to give Negri Sembilan a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 win over Terengganu in a pulsating Malaysia Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.

Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin had given the east coast side the lead in the 59th minute but Negri’s nippy winger S. Kunalan equalised with a curling shot in the 81st minute.

Then, with four minutes on the clock Hairuddin, who is noted for his headers in front of goal, stunned the 80,000 capacity crowd with a scissor-kick strike.

Negri skipper Mohd Shukor Adan orchestrated the move with his precise passing and Hairuddin made no mistake as he tucked the ball away from the outstretched hands of Terengganu custodian Mohd Sharbinee Allawee.

It was unfortunate for Terengganu not to cap their season with the most prestigious silverware after having won the FA Cup and finishing runners-up to neighbours Kelantan in the Super League.

Terengganu coach Irfan Bakti even said they would win last night’s final when he said that “this is the season for Terengganu” after their Herculean efforts to beat Kelantan (5-3 on aggregate) and 32-time winners Selangor (4-1 on aggregate) in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.

But it was not their night.

Negri coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah will be proud of his senior citizens especially skipper Mohd Shukor, centre-back Norhafiz Zamani Misbah and the hero of the night Hairuddin – all in their prime of their playing careers.

The only thing missing from the pulsating opening half was the goals.

Negri dominated the procedings and won most of the possession in midfield with the fleet-footed Terengganu boys surprisingly reduced to just counter attacks.

The spotlight was on Negri’s targetman Hairuddin Omar, whose best chance of the half came in the opening 47 seconds of the match when he missed a sitter in front of goal with only Terengganu goalkeeper Mohd Sharbinee Allawee to beat.

Hairuddin with eight goals in the Malaysia Cup, six from headers, was heavily marked last night.

Still they could not prevent him from scoring the winner which was his third consecutive goal in three Malaysia Cup finals. He scored for Negri in 2009 when they beat Kelantan and then for Kelantan in 2010 when they beat Negri.

Terengganu were unable to dish out their smooth flowing attacking game with playmaker Joseph Kallang Tie and Reeshafiq Alwi unable to get their act right.

Hotshot Abdul Manaf Mamat had the best chance when he broke loose into the box but his shot was denied by the woodwork in the 23rd minute.

Lanky Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin provided some anxious moments for the Terengganu fans with his strong runs and even came close with a shot at goal which Negri goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias saved in the 21st minute.

Negri’s speedy flankers S. Kunalan and Shahurain Abu Samah were a menace in the Terengganu half creating the openings through their darting runs.

It was Terengganu’s baby face asssassin Mohd Ashaari who drew first blood when he latched onto Abdul Manaf’s pass to whip the ball past Negri goalkeeper Mohd Farizal in the 59th minute.

All of a sudden Terengganu had fresh legs and they kept Negri pinned in their own half but Negr’s persistence paid off as Kunalan stunned the crowd with a left-footed cross which sailed into the net beating an off-guard Terengganu goalkeeper Mohd Sharbinee in the 80th minute.

Then, it was Hairuddin’s, also fondly called “Hai O”, turn to make it a memorable night for Negri in the 86th minute. The goal also delivered the third consecutive Malaysia Cup winners’ medal for Hairuddin.

Terengganu: Mohd Sharbinee Allawee, Reeshafiq Alwi, Joseph Kallang Tie, Abdul Hadi Yahya (Ismail Faruqi), Mazlizam Mohd (Helmi Remeli), Mohd Zubir Azmi, Mohd Marzuki Yusof, Ahmad Nordin Alias, Abdul Manaf Mamat, Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin, Mohd Faizal Mohd.

N. Sembilan: Mohd Farizal Marlias, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, S. Kunalan, Mohd Aidil Zafuan, Shahurain Abu Samah (Mohd Firdaus Azizul), Abdul Halim Zainal, Mohd Shukor Adan, Qhairul Anwar Roslani, Idris Karim, Hairuddin Omar, Irwan Fadli Idrus

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Fans angry over high ticket prices hack FAM website

Angry fans have defaced the website of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), with hackers changing its logo and posting vulgar remarks.
FAM general-secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad said the association would lodge a police report.

“This is not the first time. It is something we have experienced before,” said Azzuddin, after the Malaysia Cup final team managers’ meeting at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.

It is believed that the website ( was defaced by hackers demanding that the ticket price for today’s Malaysia Cup final between Terengganu and Negri Sembilan be reduced.
FAM had raised the ticket price by introducing a flat rate of RM50 last week. Previously, ticket prices were between RM30 and RM50.

The hackers called the move “illogical” and branded FAM as a capitalist. The defaced page credited UM’07, cr3ws, gaysec and anti-p4sti for the hacking.

More than 54,000 tickets were sold in Kuala Terengganu and Seremban.

Fans can buy 16,000 tickets at the stadium from 9am today.

Negeri Sembilan confident they can win Malaysia Cup

Negeri Sembilan faced some difficult moments this season in terms of injuries, controversies and adversities. But they withstood every test bravely to reach their third successive Malaysia Cup final.
Former national Under-21 coach Azraai Khor Abdullah, who took over from Wan Jamak Wan Hassan, in April, had the near impossible task of toughening up a bunch of unmotivated players but despite the odds, the 59-year-old managed to turn them into a winning side.

Azraai first helped the team avoid relegation as they moved up four rungs from 12th position in the Super League.

It was tough then as Azraai had to dig deep to even name 18 fit players for Super League matches as many were injured. In some games, he had to resort to using Negri’s President Cup players in his line-up.
The break before the Malaysia Cup, however, helped in Negri’s recovery as the injured key players soon returned to full fitness and at the same time, Azraai used the opportunity to make tactical changes.

Negri’s resurrection began at the start of the Malaysia Cup, when they edged Terengganu, PKNS and Sime Darby to top Group B to advance to the quarter-finals.

Attacking midfielder Shahurain Abu Samah and veteran Hairuddin Omar have been instrumental and with 13 goals between them in the Malaysia Cup, they will be the ones to watch in the final.

Shahurain and Hairuddin have personal ambitions in today’s final — both want to score for the third successive time in a Malaysia Cup final.

For the record, they scored three goals in Negri’s 3-1 win over Kelantan in the 2009 final.

And in last year’s final, both players scored again but this time Hairuddin did it for Kelantan to help the east coast side edge Negri 2-1.

Negri, who are the underdogs, are expected to take a cautious approach against a formidable Terengganu’s strike force.

However, contrary to popular belief, Terengganu are not unbeatable, and it is unwise for anyone to write off Negri before a single ball has been kicked.

Sure, this is the biggest test of the season by far, but don’t think for a second that Negri will be lacking in readiness and in belief.

This is normally the part where I’d insert a prediction, but there won’t be one. Instead, I’ll close with five simple words, and you can make of it what you will: Champions aren’t crowned on paper.

Probable line-up

Goalkeeper: Farizal Marlias
Defenders: Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Aidil Zafuan Abd Radzak, Irwan Fadzli Idrus, Mohd Alif Samsudin
Midfielders: S. Kunanlan, Shukur Adan, Idris Karim, Shahurain Abu Samah
Strikers: Hairuddin Omar, Mohd Firdaus Azizul
Coach: Azraai Khor Abdullah
Manager: Abdul Halim Abd Latif

Team’s leading scorers
11 (goals): Hairuddin Omar
10: Shahurain Abu Samah
8: Firdaus Azizul


Beat PKNS 2-1 (away)
Beat Sime Darby 5-0 (home)
Beat Terengganu 1-0 (home)
Lost to PKNS 0-2 (home)
Beat Sime Darby 2-1 (away)
Drew Terengganu 0-0 (away)
QF 1st leg: Lost to Felda United 0-1 (away)
QF 2nd leg: Beat Felda United 3-0, aet (home)
SF 1st leg: Beat T-Team 4-2 (away)
SF 2nd leg: Beat T-Team 2-1 (home)


Champions (1948, 2009),
Runners-up: (2000, 2006, 2010)


2011 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 0 Negri 0
2011 Malaysia Cup: Negri 1 Terengganu 0
2011 Super League: Terengganu 3 Negri 0
2011 Super League: Negri 1 Terengganu 1
2010 Super League: Terengganu 1 Negri 1
2010 Super League: Negri 2 Terengganu 1
2009 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 1 Negri 3
2009 Malaysia Cup: Negri 1 Terengganu 0
2009 Malaysia Cup: Negri 2 Terengganu 0
2009 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 0 Negri 1

Terengganu fast becoming a force in local football

It has been a long time coming and the time is nigh for Terengganu to stamp their authority on the local football scene.
Having built one of the strongest squads in Terengganu’s history, coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim stands on the cusp of emulating the Malaysia Cup triumph of Mat Zan Mat Aris in 2001, the only time the East Coast state have won Malaysian football most prestigious honour.

Irfan has formed a talented and consistent team that have already reaped their rewards with the FA Cup final win over Kelantan earlier this year.

Testament to Terengganu’s strength is the fact that seven of their players have been called up by national coach K. Rajagobal for two friendly matches against India next month.
In Ashaari Samsudin and Manaf Mamat, Terengganu possess two exciting forwards who clearly know where the back of the net is, having scored five and six goals respectively in this competition.

Super League top scorer Hadi Yahya has yet to find the mark in the Malaysia Cup but that does not mean the striker should be counted out as he remains a vital cog in the Terengganu machinery and is more than capable of adding to his tally of 26 goals for state and country this season.

Reeshafiq Alwi is the unsung hero in midfield who is a constant thorn to opposing teams, quietly stamping his authority while providing sufficient cover for his defence and allowing Joseph Kalang Tie the freedom to carve apart opposing defences with his crafty skills.

The player who began his career under Mat Zan at Kuala Lumpur and later KL Plus, has blossomed under Irfan’s guidance and but for the presence of talent elsewhere, should have found his way into the national set up.

Goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee Ramli has copped some flak for his performance with the national team but there is no doubt he has been instrumental in Terengganu’s run to the final.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the 5-3 aggregate quarter-final victory over Kelantan or the double over Selangor in the semi-finals when a string of fine saves kept his team in the ascendancy.

Central defender Mazuki Yusof provides the leadership and experience in the team, which has been crucial in a defence that boast relatively young players in Faizal Muhammad, Zubir Azmi and Mazlizam Mohamad.

Terengganu’s 2-1 win over Perak in the 2001 final remains their greatest achievement yet but the class of 2011 will surpass anything they have done in the past should they hold aloft the trophy on tonight at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Probable line-up

Sharbinee Allawee Ramli:
Defenders: Faizal Muhammad, Mazlizam Mohammad, Mazuki Yusof, Zubir Azmi
Midfielders: Joseph Kallang Tie, Reeshafiq Alwi, Ismail Faruqi Ashaari, Ashaari Samsuddin
Strikers: Abdul Hadi Yahya, Abdul Manaf Mamat
Coach: Irfan Bakti
Manager: Datuk Che Mat Jusoh

Team’s leading scorers
24 (goals): Abdul Hadi Yahya
21: Manaf Mamat
19: Ashaari Samsuddin


Beat Sime Darby 3-0 (away)
Beat PKNS 3-0 (home)
Lost to Negri Sembilan 0-1 (away)
Beat Sime Darby 1-0 (home)
Beat PKNS 1-0 (away)
Drew Negri 0-0 (home)
QF 1st leg: Beat Kelantan 3-1 (home)
QF 2nd leg: Drew Kelantan 2-2 (away)
SF 1st leg: Beat Selangor 2-0 (away)
SF 2nd leg: Beat Selangor 2-1 (home)


Champions (2001),
Runners-up (1973, 1982, 1998)


2011 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 0 Negri 0
2011 Malaysia Cup: Negri 1 Terengganu 0
2011 Super League: Terengganu 3 Negri 0
2011 Super League: Negri 1 Terengganu 1
2010 Super League: Terengganu 1 Negri 1
2010 Super League: Negri 2 Terengganu 1
2009 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 1 Negri 3
2009 Malaysia Cup: Negri 1 Terengganu 0
2009 Malaysia Cup: Negri 2 Terengganu 0
2009 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 0 Negri 1

Terengganu favourites to win Malaysia Cup final

The east coast teams are fast emerging as a new force in Malaysian football.

Kelantan proved it last year when the Red Warriors made history by winning the Malaysia Cup for the first time since 1921 (Malaya Cup).

This year, it’s Kelantan’s bitter rivals and neighbours Terengganu who are hogging the limelight.
The Turtles are on a roll – they won the FA Cup, finished runners-up in the Super League (behind Kelantan) and now will battle it out with Negri Sembilan in the Malaysia Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium today.

Terengganu, who last won the Cup in 2001, will start as the favourites after their Herculean efforts in the knockout stages.

Coach Irfan Bakti’s men eliminated defending champions Kelantan 5-3 on aggregate in the quarter-final before humbling 32-time winners Selangor 4-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.
“I guess this is going to be our year,” said Irfan.

On paper, everything seems to point to Irfan’s men lifting the Cup.

They’ve got class acts all over the pitch – from playmakers Joseph Kallang Tie and Ismail Faruqi to hotshots Abdul Manaf Mamat and Abdul Hadi Yahya; the speedy Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin, Reeshafiq Alwi; and influential skipper and defender Mohd Marzuki Yusof, the sole member from the 2001 Cup-winning squad who beat Perak 2-1.

Coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah’s Negri, meanwhile, are a unique side. The Deer seem to thrive in the Malaysia Cup – this is their third straight final.

This is in contrast to their poor showing in the Super League (8th position) and FA Cup (knocked out 4-2 on penalty kicks by Kuala Lumpur in the second round).

“I don’t have to say much about this Negri team … our record speaks for itself. After all, we are in our third straight final,” said Mohd Azraai, who had guided Kedah to win the treble (Malaysia Cup, FA Cup, Super League) back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.

Negri will also have all their best men available, including the injured Abdul Razak twins of Mohd Aidil Zafuan (centreback) and Mohd Zaquan Adha (striker).

But it is their hired hand from Terengganu – Hairuddin Omar – who is causing all the buzz.
The 32-year-old former international, fondly known as “Hai O”, holds the key in Negri’s strikeforce.

Terengganu would be well advised to keep a tight leash on this deadly finisher, who has a knack of scoring with headers in Cup finals.

The Setiu-born striker has done twice – in the 2009 and 2010 finals.

In 2009, he was with Negri and scored with a header in their 3-1 win over Kelantan.

The following year, he hopped over to Kelantan and guided the Red Warriors to the Cup when he again scored with a header in their 2-1 win over Negri in the final.

“I am just a hired hand who plays for any team who want my services. I will be playing against my home team but that is not important to me. I am a professional and I will do what I do best,” said Hairuddin.

So, can Negri’s hired-hand from Setiu dash his home team’s dream or will Terengganu show that they are the new footballing powerhouse?

Either way, get set for a cracking showdown.

Terengganu fans ready to support their team in final

The Shah Alam Stadium will be a sea of white tonight as more than 10,000 Terengganu fans are expected to make the trip to witness the Malaysia Cup final between the Turtles and Negri Sembilan.

More than 20 buses have been chartered by the various fan clubs here to ferry the fans some 450km from Kuala Terengganu to Shah Alam in Selangor.

Terengganu Football Fan Club (Peteh) secretary Wan Mohd Azmi Wan Ngah said the fans began leaving for Shah Alam yesterday.

Terengganu relying on attack to destroy Negeri Sembilan

Similar to the Triple-A guns used in battles, the Turtles will be counting on their own Triple-A weapon to gun down Negri Sembilan in today’s Malaysia Cup final.

(The Triple-A is an abbreviation of anti-aircraft artillery.)

Although not as deadly as the real gun, Terengganu’s attacking trio of Abdul Manaf Mamat, Abdul Hadi Yahya and Ashaari Sham-suddin are no less lethal as they get set set to terrorise Negri’s defence at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Abdul Hadi, the top scorer in the Super League this season, is hoping to end his Malaysia Cup jinx, having not found the net thus far.

“What better way to break my goal drought than scoring in the final,” he said.

Abdul Manaf is confident that he and his two sidekicks will make life miserable for Negri’s defenders.

“We understand each other’s style and are in sync with one another. I hope that we can make an impact,” he said.

“If we stay focused and stick to the game plan – and with a little luck – we can win the match.”
Ashaari, known as Saha among team-mates and fans, was just as upbeat.

“This our chance and we must not let our fans down. This the home stretch, so let’s bring the Cup back home,” he said.

Friends Marzuki and Hairuddin set to battle in final

Terengganu skipper and defender Marzuki Yusof has only one message for Negri Sembilan hotshot Hairuddin Omar: “No Entry Hai-O”.

The two good friends, who were in Terengganu’s Malaysia Cup winning team in 2001, will be on opposite sides when their teams meet in the Malaysia Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium today.

Marzuki, regarded as Terengganu’s ‘kereta kebal’ (tank) in defence, said he would set aside their friendship for one night.

“He is my comrade but, come game night, all gloves are off. There is nothing personal and I will do my best to ensure our defence remains solid against Hairuddin and company,” he said.

Marzuki, who has been solid in defence for the Turtles all season, said his height would come in handy against Hairuddin, who is a good header of the ball.

“Hairuddin is very dangerous, especially with his headers, so I will pay close attention to that. I respect him but our defenders will close him down,” he said.

The veteran Marzuki, who is an inspiration to his younger team-mates, said it was make-or-break time for Terengganu as they seek to win the Cup again after 10 years.

“We have trained hard and prepared mentally as well for the final. I told my team-mates not to freeze or feel intimidated on the big stage and that they must stay focused on the job at hand – beat Negri and lift the Cup,” said Marzuki.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Terengganu striker Abdul Hadi wants to score in final

Terengganu striker Abdul Hadi Yahaya hopes for a miracle in the Malaysia Cup final at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.

According to Hadi, the miracle was much needed to bring back the faith of the Terengganu supporters who yearned for goals from him.

This Klang-born player failed to score any goal during the Malaysia Cup competition which is now reaching its climax.

He said he did not want to disappoint the Terengganu supporters who had  high hopes in him and promised his best performance in the final.

Hadi, who was top striker in the Super League and FA Cup, admitted of being under pressure that he could not contribute any goal for the team, and his inconsistent performance against Selangor last Saturday.

 "I will make up for all my shortcomings as this is my last chance to do so this season. I will go all out on Saturday to bring back the prestigious trophy to Terengganu after 10 years of waiting by the fans," he said.

The 26-year-old player scored 26 goals this season and is carving personal history by making his debut in the final of the Malaysia Cup.

On Terengganu's chances in the final, Hadi said Terengganu had equal chances with Negeri Sembilan to win, and would exercise care because the opposing team is lined with experienced players like Hairuddin Omar and Sukor Adan.

Negeri Sembilan strikers wants to score again in final

Negeri Sembilan's Shahurain Abu Samah and Hairuddin Omar have one thing in common -- both had scored in the two previous Malaysia Cup finals.

And they want to extend their record in Saturday's big match against FA Cup champions Terengganu.

"It will be a dream if both of us can score in our third consecutive final. We will probably create a record if we do so as I don't think anyone has scored in three straight finals," said Shahurain yesterday.

"But the truth is I don't care who scores in the final as my focus is to help Negeri lift the title."

Hairuddin's brace and Shahurain's solo effort helped Negeri beat Kelantan 3-1 in the final two years ago.

The veteran striker moved to Kelantan the following season and scored the winner for them in the final to cancel out Shahurain's goal for Negeri.

Hairuddin, however, returned to Negeri this year to renew is partnership with Shahurain.

Both players hardly featured in the Super League due to injury but returned to full fitness in time for the Malaysia Cup where they have so far scored 13 goals between them.

"It's been a tough season. Our injuries restricted us in the Super League but lucky for us, we were declared fit for this competition." said Shahurain.

On the final, the attacking midfielder said his team need to take a cautious approach against Terengganu.

"We cannot play open style football with them as they have good attacking players. We must be patient in our build-up in the final," he added.

Terengganu worried over top striker's injury

Terengganu are sweating over the fitness of star striker Manaf Mamat ahead of Saturday's Malaysia Cup final against Negri Sembilan.
The 24-year-old player, currently listed as "doubtful" for Saturday's big game, has not been able to train since Monday after twisting his ankle in a bad fall during training.

Coach Irfan Bakti said it will be a massive loss if Manaf, scorer of 28 goals in all competitions thus far this season, including six in the Malaysia Cup, is ruled out.

"He is such a hard worker who contributes a lot to the team and his services will be sorely missed should he fail to recover in time," said Irfan.

"His ankle is no longer swollen although it is still tender. We are all hoping that he will pass the fitness test on matchday to at least be on the bench."

The coach said Manaf had a big part in Terengganu's win over Kelantan in the quarter-finals and later in the semi-finals, almost single-handedly destroyed Selangor with his three goals in the home and away ties.

"It will be major blow for us to lose Manaf as Ashaari Shamsuddin will be without his strike partner just when he needs him the most," added the coach.

"Of course, we still have our Super League top scorer Abdul Hadi Yahya to do the damage but we are talking about the Malaysia Cup final and we cannot afford to be less than the best especially when we are playing Negri Sembilan."

Irfan said Terengganu have done well this season, winning the FA Cup and finishing second in the Super League.

"But our record against Negri Sembilan is not all that great as we have yet to beat them this year after three draws and one loss.

"They now have a psychological advantage over us and that is why I need to have all my key players available especially Manaf, who has hit a rich vein of form of late."

However, Manaf, whose father died almost two weeks ago, is confident he will be fit for the final.

"I will be devastated if I cannot play as this final is a tribute to my father and I want to win my first ever Malaysia Cup in his honour," he said.

"My ankle does not feel that bad now and chances are I will be fit and ready to help bring the trophy back home on Saturday."

Negeri Sembilan defender wants team to focus against Terengganu

Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak fears Malaysia Cup heartbreak for Negri Sembilan if they become too obsessed with shackling Manaf Mamat in tomorrow's final against Terengganu at the Shah Alam Stadium.
The centreback knows he is in for one of the toughest tests of his career against the star quality of Irfan Bakti Abu Salim's side.

Manaf's return to form with six goals so far in the Malaysia Cup is a huge threat but Aidil Zafuan will not focus all his energy on the injury-prone striker.

"Manaf is a great player and is really hard to stop," said Aidil Zafuan.
"But I would not underestimate the other players they have like Ashaari (Samsuddin), Abdul Hadi (Yahya) and Joseph (Kallang Tie), they're really good players who can produce good performances in vital games.

"It is not just about one player. It's about stopping Terengganu as a team."

Aidil Zafuan said Negri's defeat to Kelantan in last year's final will be a motivating factor for his team tomorrow.

"Obviously when you get to a final as big as that and lose, it's not a great feeling. To see the other team celebrate the biggest trophy you can have, it's not a great moment," he said.

Aidil Zafuan believes Terengganu will have a lot of possession during the game.

"But it is down to us to exploit their weaknesses which all teams have," said the 24-year-old.

Negri have no injury worries but it remains to be seen whether coach Azraai Khor Abdullah opts for a five-man midfield to counter Terengganu's threat.

"Azraai has some big calls to make because all his players are fit and it will be really hard to choose the first 11," added Aidil Zafuan.

Terengganu inspired by former Sarawak players

Joseph Kallang Tie and Reeshafiq Alwi are quiet and unassuming, and regrettably, do not score many goals.
But coach Irfan Bakti said Terengganu would not be where they are now without the "dynamic Sarawak duo".

"They are not the most celebrated players in the team but they certainly are among the most important ones on the field," said Irfan.

"They are midfielders and up until now, they have been running the engine room with precision."

The coach said the "Sarawak connection" is an integral part of the team who have thus far won the FA Cup, finished second in the Super League and are now in the Malaysia Cup final against Negri Sembilan.

"Reeshafiq has scored twice while Joseph found the net once in the Malaysia Cup campaign but that does not matter as their jobs are to provide support for our strikers," added the coach.

"They have done that well enough, judging by the number of goals scored by Ashaari Samsuddin, Manaf Mamat and Abdul Hadi Yahya."

Joseph, the 24-year-old Miri-born, said he had high expectations when he decided to join Terenggau two years ago.

"Back then, I did not know that most of my dreams would come true but now, I am the Malaysia Games football gold medallist, FA Cup winner and I am about to play in the Malaysia Cup final for the first time," he said.

Reeshafiq, 29, who hails from Kuching, said it is a privilege to be given a chance to play for double honours in one season.

"I have never had such a good year before and like all my teammates and every football fan in Terengganu, we really, really want to win the Malaysia Cup," he said.

"I was with Terengganu as an on-loan player in 2008 when we made it to the semi-finals but lost to Selangor.

"And now that I have been given another chance, I want to make sure that I will get my hands on the Cup."

Terengganu fans unhappy over ticket allocations

Terengganu Supporters Club (Peteh) secretary Wan Mohd Azmi Wan Ngah said thousands of fans were deprived of a chance to watch their team take on Negri Sembilan in tomorrow's final at Shah Alam Stadium.

He said of the 30,000 tickets allocated to the Terengganu FA, at least 20,000 went to state assemblymen and members of parliament.

"We understand that each head of all 32 constituencies and eight parliamentary areas in the state was allowed to purchase at least 500 tickets in bulk. That amounts to at least 20,000 and since some of them bought more than 500 tickets, then the hardcore supporters who follow the team week in, week out, were left with just a few thousand," he said.

Wan Azmi said it did not come as a surprise to hear that all 30,000 tickets were sold out in less than three hours.

"What is sad is that some of the fans who came from outside Kuala Terengganu, queued up since dawn on Wednesday but had to walk way empty-handed. Those are the real fans who do not just need tickets for the final as they rarely miss Terengganu games, be it at home or away," he said.

Wan Azmi added that it hurts even more to hear that "black market" tickets were being sold at a much higher price. "The tickets sold in the state is priced at RM25 after Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said announced a state government subsidy of 50 per cent.

"After the ticket counters were closed, we heard that tickets were available at RM30, RM35 and as high as RM50," he said.

Wan Azmi said black market tickets were available because the tickets fell into the wrong hands, especially those who could not care less about Terengganu football.

"The lucky ones are provided with free tickets, transportation and accommodation to watch the final in Shah Alam.

"But not all ticket holders are true supporters and some of them are going just for the sake of shopping and sightseeing," he said.

Speedy midfielder Kunanlan prepared to trouble Terengganu

Negeri Sembilan's S. Kunanlan cut short his Deepavali celebrations to report for training in Paroi on Wednesday.

The left winger was one of the first ones at the training ground and his readiness to train even surprised coach Azraai Khor Abdullah, who was not expecting him to arrive early.

Kunanlan has sacrificed Deepavali celebrations with his family for training, and this shows he is determined to help Negeri win the Malaysia Cup title tomorrow.

"I have promised my family and friends a party if I return with the winner's medal on Saturday (tomorrow). I want a happy Deepavali and to have that, I need to give my 100 per cent in the match," said Kunanlan yesterday.

"Everyone in the team has little time for matters outside the training ground. We just want to go through the training drills before we travel to Shah Alam Stadium for the final."

The 25-year-old may not have scored many goals this season but his eye-catching runs along the left flank and inch-perfect crosses have helped Negeri make an impact on the tournament.

Kunanlan is expected to be closely shadowed by Terengganu players but the national player is prepared for the challenge.

"I am prepared for anything. I will be unstoppable and my markers had better be prepared for it.

"I want to repay Negeri for making me a better player. I was signed as an unknown by Negeri five years ago and today, because of them, I have achieved so much in the game," said the Semenyih-born midfielder.

Kunanlan was rejected by other M-League teams before signing with Negeri and with them, he has won two titles.

He helped Negeri win the 2009 Malaysia Cup and 2010 FA Cup titles, then under coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan.

On tomorrow's final, Kunanlan said Negeri must dictate the pace and score early goals to rattle Terengganu.

"We cannot allow them to score first. If they do, then it would be tough for us. I believe we need to build our game patiently from the back throughout the match," he added.

Young Negeri Sembilan midfielder Mahathevan in dream final

Rookie midfielder G. Mahathevan (pic) can thank his lucky stars for his successful debut with Negri Sembilan this season.

The lanky 23-year-old, who stands 1.9m (6’3”), said it was a dream come true to have qualified for the Malaysia Cup final.

He now hopes to be a part of the team that will troop onto the pitch against Terengganu at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s been a good year for me and the team, which has qualified for three consecutive Malaysia Cup finals,” said Mahathevan, who is not too keen to be on the bench on Cup final day.

“I am not a regular yet. I do get chances here and there but I will continue to fight for my place and I hope to establish a first-team role in the star-studded Negri side.”

Mahathevan will have to compete with attacking midfielders Idris Karim, Shahurain Abu Samah, S. Kunalan and Abdul Halim Zainal for a place in the starting 11.

Mahathevan is also a rare breed of footballer who wants the best of both worlds – a successful career in football and studies. He holds a diploma in mechanical engineering.

He also believes that his stints with three other Premier League clubs have done wonders for him.

“I am playing with more confidence now. I have improved a lot since playing with my previous clubs – Shahzan Muda (2007), Sabah (2009) and PKNS FC (2010),” he said.

Things are certainly starting to look up for Mahathevan, especially since being signed up by Super League outfit Negri Sembilan this season.

Mahathevan, a big fan of French football legend Zinedine Zidane, also earned his first call-up to the national team under coach K. Rajagopal for the friendly against the visiting English Premier League giants Manchester United in July 2009.

It was not a memorable outing for Mahathevan, who only ended up warming the bench.

“I guess it was due to my inexperience. I am glad to have got the call-up though. I still have a lot to learn in football,” said the defensive midfielder.