Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Baddrol Bakhtiar wants to stay with Kedah next season

Baddrol Bakhtiar is set to remain with Kedah for next season although Indonesian Super League club Pelita Jaya has made  him an offer.

The 23 year-old player said the offer though good for experience and to improve performance will have to wait as he still has one year on his contract with Kedah.

"Kedah Football Association must decide whether to release me or not. I also  need to discuss with my family before accepting the offer," he told Bernama here Wednesday.

The SEA Games team captain also received several offers from local teams including Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Sabah.

Newspaper reports yesterday said Pelita Jaya was keen on midfielder Baddrol and goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat who shone at SEA Games.

Second goalkeeper Farizal Marlias was being pursued by Persisam Putra Samarinda.

Kuala Lumpur to play Brazilian club in pre-season friendly

Malaysian football fans can look forward to a showcase of exquisite samba style football this week when the Kuala Lumpur Super League squad take on the Joga Limpo Brazilian team at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Cheras this Saturday.

The Brazilians, brought in by Pingat Gemilang Sdn  Bhd,   are in town as part of an initiative to inject  some Samba flavour into the M-League, after  FAM's decision to allow Malaysian teams to hire  up  to two foreign players next season.

While some teams have already booked the services of  foreign players to boost their squads for the 2012 season, none have signed up Brazilians.

Pingat Gemilang Sdn  Bhd aims to change this as the  Malaysian company will also be the agent for seven Brazilian  players aiming to ply their trade in the region.

Seeking to secure contracts for these players in the  Malaysian Super League, Singapore League,  Indonesian League and other prominent leagues in the region,  Pingat Gemilang is confident this would be the beginning of  building Southeast Asian football to the next level.

"Brazilians have always been synonymous with beautiful  football, with world class players constantly produced from  the streets of cities such as Rio. We hope to be able to find the  next world class stars playing here in the M-League, for  instance," said Pingat Gemilang director, David Charles Leo.

The Joga  Limpo Brazil team set to face the Kuala Lumpur  Super League team on  Saturday Kuala Lumpur will be  filled with both current and former Brazilian football  stars which includes former Bayern Munich and Barcelona stars Paolo Sergio and Giovanni.

Kuala Lumpur vs Joga Limpo Brazil (Kuala Lumpur Foot ball Stadium, 8.45pm, Dec 3)

Sime Darby signs Liberian striker Ronaldinho

Sime Darby FC have signed striker Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh from Liberia for their Premier League campaign next season.

The 21-year-old Ronaldinho plays for newly-crowned Liberian champions LISCR FC.

Sime FC secretary and assistant team manager Zainal Amat said coach Ismail Zakaria was impressed with the young striker.

“We were in Liberia to look for players and Ronaldinho caught our eye. We have yet to make a decision on the second foreign player,” said Zainal yesterday.

The club have, more or less, settled on the rest of the team with former Perak hitman Razali Umar Kandasamy among the notable signings.

Zainal said Razali had been jobless since May after his contract was terminated by the Perak FA.

“I hope he will find a new lease of life here with Sime Darby FC. We are aware of his past problems but are prepared to counsel him and resurrect his football career,” said Zainal.

A talented footballer, Razali has often found himself caught in controversy due to disciplinary issues. He went AWOL while with the national Under-23 squad preparing for the 2009 SEA Games in Laos and his expulsion from the Perak team was also due to off-field antics.

Forwards Mohd Zamri Hassan and Irme Mat, from newly-promoted PKNS FC, will also be joining Sime Darby next season together with Johor midfielder Mohd Shoufiq Mohd Khusaini.

Sime Darby, who finished fifth in the Premier League this season, have set themselves a target of earning promotion to the Super League in 2013 with a top-two finish.

“It will be tough because Pahang and Perlis will be playing in the Premier League. We have to strengthen our squad for the challenge ahead,” said Zainal.

The squad, under coach Ismail Zakaria, will be banking on inspirational skipper Mohd Nor Ismail, and strikers Faisal Esahar and Mohizam Shah Dawood Shah to lead their charge. 

Aidil Zafuan looking to win best defender award for third time

Negri Sembilan defender Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak will be eyeing a third consecutive win when the winners of the 100Plus-Astro-FAM National Football Awards are announced at the Holiday Inn in Glenmarie today.

The 24-year-old international, a regular figure for club and country over the past three years, picked up the Best Defender award in 2009 and bagged the same title last year.

However, Aidil, who had a dismal season plagued by a niggling knee injury, is keeping his fingers crossed on his chances.

“I am very happy to have won the title for the past two years but my nomination this year is much more meaningful as I have been struggling with injuries,” said Aidil, who has been representing Malaysia in various categories since he was 14.

“I hope that I have done enough to win the title this year. For me the award ceremony gives recognition to the best players in the country.”

Aidil, together with fellow international and twin brother Zaquan, won the Sukma football crown in 2004 with Negri Sembilan before being promoted to the senior side a year later. 

They also won their first Malaysia Super League title the same year with Negri.

After representing Malaysia at two AFC Youth Championships, Aidil Zafuan was roped into the National Under-23 team who emerged triumphant in the 2007 Merdeka Tourna­ment. 

The Seremban lad was promoted to the senior squad in 2007 and made the team for the Asian Cup which Malaysia hosted.

“I hope that they will continue to have this award ceremony. I feel it is an important aspect for professional football in our country,” said Aidil, who played for the Negri team who beat Terengganu 2-1 to win the Malaysia Cup this year.

The nominees for the various categories this year were selected by the Super League and Premier League head coaches while the awards for the Best Football Association and Best Club will be decided by the FAM’s Competitions Committee.

Kelantan to play 4 foreign players in AFC Cup next season

Ambitious Kelantan do not intend to just make up the numbers in their AFC Cup debut next season.

Team manager Azman Ibrahim said they would be well-equipped to compete in the second-tier AFC competition as they would be fielding four foreign players.

“We began work last month and have engaged three foreign players so far,” Azman said in Seremban yesterday.

The new signings are strikers Mohd Ghaddar, 27, from Lebanon, Antwi Dennis Agyare, 18, and defensive midfielder Okine Emmanuel Ayaah, 19, both from Ghana.

The Red Warriors have also been strengthened by the return of strikers Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Norfarhan Mohd and centre-back Azizi Matt Rose, who played key roles in the side’s 2010 Malaysia Cup triumph. The trio played for T-Team last season.

Kelantan’s other notable new local signing is Azlan Ismail from Kedah.

Azman said they are now monitoring a fourth foreign player, defensive midfielder Albert Banning from Cameroon.

Kelantan, however, will only be allowed to register two foreign players in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next season.

“We don’t want to be the whipping boys in the AFC Cup. That’s why we will be going in with four foreign players. We will have to decide which two will feature in the domestic competition,” said Azman.

Kelantan and Terengganu are Malaysia’s two representatives in the AFC Cup next year. The draw is scheduled for Dec 6.

Kelantan FA President Tan Sri Annuar Musa said they intended to raise the level of Malaysian football.

“We can’t go into the AFC Cup with a handicap by fielding only two foreign players when all the other clubs will have the maximum four. Our aim is to raise the bar and see that our clubs go beyond the quarter-final stage,” said Annuar.

No Malaysian team have got past the quarter-finals in the series. Selangor were the last Malaysian team to make an impact in the then Asian Club Championship – finishing runners-up to Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel in the inaugural tournament in 1967.

Israel are now part of UEFA and Hapoel featured in the European Champions League this season.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

T-Team to sign former Perlis striker for next season

Zambian striker Zacharia Simukonda who played for Perlis in the 2007 M-League season is set to join T-Team for next year.

T-Team coach Yunus Alif said the 28-year-old striker who had played a prominent role in Perlis' rise back in 2007 would be signed.

"Zacharia has passed the test and he meets the criteria set by us. Another import player will be tested next week," he told Bernama here today.

Yunus was confident with the ability of Zacharia who was representing the Red Arrows club, Zambia after a playing stint with Al-Faizaly club in the Jordan league from 2009-2010.

Meanwhile, T-Team will also sign nine new players to replace players who had moved to other teams for the 2012 season, especially Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Nor Farhan Mohamad and Azizi Matt Rose.

He said the three players who helped T'Team to establish itself as a power to be reckoned with last season had moved to Kelantan, the Super League champion  who will compete in the Asian clubs (AFC Cup) championship next year.

He said the nine new players comprised of three players each from Selangor, Perlis and Terengganu respectively.

Yunus added that T-Team would play a friendly match with Selangor next month to test the compatibility of his new signings.

Former Malaysian coach Norizan Bakar nominated for national award

Former national coach Norizan Bakar is thrilled to have been nominated for this year's 100Plus-Astro-FAM National Football Awards. 

To him, it is recognition from his peers for his efforts as a leading coach in Malaysia.

The Perak coach has been shortlisted for the Best Coach award alongside Irfan Bakti Abu Salim, the coach for FA Cup winners Terengganu last season and Datuk M. Karathu, who led Kelantan to the Malaysia Super League crown this season.

"As a professional coach, there is nothing more important than getting recognition from your peers," said Norizan, 50,  who hails from Perlis.

"I feel honoured that I have been shortlisted even though Perak did not win any title this year.

This recognition shows that there are people out there aware of the work that I'm doing."

Norizan played for Perlis  from 1978-1989, winning the Division Two title in 1989.

He started his coaching career with Perlis, leading them to the runners-up spot in the FA Cup in 2003 before winning the Malaysia Cup title the year after.

He led Malaysia to the bronze medal at the Sea Games in Manila in 2005 and to the semi-finals of the AFF Championship in 2007.

The winners will be revealed tomorrow.

Emerging young talents gives positive news to Malaysia

Nobody could fault the national Olympic players for a lack of effort in Sunday's late collapse to Bahrain after a gruelling month in which they played eight matches in 21 days.

Expecting them to reach the high of the Sea Games triumph  exactly a week ago against tougher and bigger Middle Eastern opponents might have been a bridge too far.

Yet, they gave it their all despite injuries and fatigue setting in although losing from a winning position in the final 10 minutes playing against 10 men is a bitter pill to swallow.

The Sea Games triumph came at a price, that of Olympic qualification, as the powers-that-be chose to bask  in regional glory while forsaking advancement on the global stage.

Coach Ong Kim Swee put the Olympic qualifying defeats to Syria (2-0) and Bahrain (3-2) down to the lack of cover in midfield after an exhausting run of games.

"I had to field a player who had not played in four months because I had no more midfield players left," said Kim Swee, referring to Affize Faisal Mamat, who is usually deployed at left-back.

Injuries to Nazmi Faiz Mansor and Affize during the game against Bahrain proved to be the turning point as Kim Swee was forced to send on attacking midfielder Abdul Shukur Jusoh and striker Ferris Danial Mat Nasir in their place.

Malaysia also lacked the experience and calming influence usually provided by K. Gurusamy and Ahmad Fakri Saarani, who were both suspended.

Bahrain sliced through the exposed midfield and rattled in three goals in the space of five minutes to bury Malaysia's dreams of an  appearance at the Olympics in London next year.

But even in defeat there remain some positives, not least the emergence of 17-year-old Nazmi as a talented playmaker in the mould of Azizol Abu Haniffa.

In addition to his intelligence, distribution, ball control and vision, Nazmi proved he has an eye for goal as well with a thundering strike against Bahrain, his first in national colours.

Following Nazmi's example, Kim Swee intends to blood more players into the side in Malaysia's remaining three games in Group C, which are largely academic as Malaysia are rooted at the bottom with no points.

"What we need now is a break," said Kim Swee, who is planning a tour of Australia for the team next month. "These players have given everything that they have got and it's time to forget football for a while.

"When we come back, we will concentrate on the three games we have left and I will make sure they learn something from those games."

Malaysia travel to Manama for the return leg against Bahrain on Feb 5, receive Japan at home on Feb 22 before wrapping up their fixtures against Syria at a neutral venue on March  14.

Kelantan to play Negeri Sembilan in pre-season friendly

Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan and Super League winners Kelantan will face off in a friendly match at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi today.

The clash of the bitter rivals will be a dress rehearsal for the M-League Charity Shield on Jan 7.

Negri coach Azraai Khor Abdullah plans to use the match to test their foreign players before signing them for the new season.

The Deer have short-listed Brazilian striker Mauro Rafael da Silva and defender Marquen Nuquen Goncalves Ferreira.

“We are still conducting trials before making our pick.” said Azraai.

“Kelantan have already signed their foreign players and are preparing for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup,” said Azraai.

“They will provide us with a good workout.

“The Brazilian duo have played high level football and I hope they do well.”

Azraai, who guided Negri to their Malaysia Cup title last month, said he was not happy with the quality and price tag of the foreign players.

“They lack quality but demand crazy wages,” said the former Kedah coach.

“When I was with Kedah we paid around US$6,000 a month tops for top class players.

“Now, the agents want US$10,000 for players who don’t really make the grade.”

Monday, 28 November 2011

10-man Bahrain gun down Malaysia with late goals in Olympic qualifier

The national Olympic football squad face an uhill task qualifying for the London Olympics after losing 2-3 to Bahrain in their third round match in Group C of the Asian Zone Qualifier at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here Sunday.

On Wednesday, Malaysia lost 0-2 to Syria in their second group match  at the same venue.
Tonight's hotly contested match was witnessed by about 30,000 home fans.

The Under-22 squad under coach Ong Kim Swee started out fiercely when Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor made a try as early as the 7th minute but his weak attempt was saved by Bahrain goalkeeper Ashraf Waheed Al Sebaie.

Muhammad Nazmi Faiz Mansor then succeeded in breaking the deadlock in the 29th minute through a left foot drive from two metres outside the penalty box.

During the early part of the second half, Mahalli Jasuli made full use of chaotic conditions in front of the Bahrain goal to score again for the "Harimau Muda" in the 67th minute.

Pressured by the 0-2 position, the visitors coached by Salman Shareeda then got their striking act together and a bicycle kick by Saad Salah Az Amer shook the Malaysian goal in the 80th minute.

The Harimau Muda squad continued to suffer misfortune when Isa Ahmed Muthanna scored two goals in sucession in the 85th and 86th minutes.

The Harimau Muda are scheduled to meet Bahrain again in the return leg match on Feb 2 before hosting Japan on Feb 22.

Terengganu coach Mat Zan looking to improve team next season

Mat Zan Mat Aris is a happy man these days. He is back in the Super League, coaching his old team, Terengganu, and his biggest problem now is looking for a place to stay in Kuala Terengganu.

Earlier, the 53-year-old former Pos Malaysia coach, who was hired to replace Irfan Bakti only days after Terengganu lost to Negri Sembilan in the Malaysia Cup final, had to deal with some disgruntled fans who were unhappy with Irfan's sudden resignation.

Then, there were street demonstrations by Terengganu supporters, calling  for the resignation of FA president Datuk Che Mat Jusoh, followed by a petition drive by the same group, asking the state government to look into the affairs of the association.

Mat Zan said he was worried at first when accepting the offer to coach the FA Cup-winning team as he thought the fans were blaming him for  Irfan's departure.

"But things went back to almost normal when we began our first training session almost two weeks ago and I am just glad that it has stayed that way ever since.

"Now, all we talk is about how to improve our team to achieve greater success than this year when the team won the FA Cup, finished second in the Super League and emerged runners-up in the Malaysia Cup," he said.

Mat Zan, who guided the Turtles to the Malaysia Cup crown in 2001, said he will not have to tinker much with the current winning squad as most of the players will be staying put.

"Except for defenders Helmi Remeli and Ronnie Harun, the rest of the players in the team were fringe players only and we are now hoping to sign at least two defenders from the Young Tigers.

"We are now in the process of hiring two foreign players but thus far, a few Russian and Ghanaian players who came here for trials have yet to impress us," he said.

The coach will have a chance to pick good foreign players as Menteri Besar  Datuk Seri Ahmad Said had announced that extra funds would  be made available to the team.

According to Ahmad, the team should hire a top midfielder and striker even if their asking salary is RM100,000 each a month.

Bahrain stage late comeback to destroy Malaysian hopes in Olympic qualifier

A calamitous five-minute spell was all it took to ruin Malaysia's hard work and shatter their Olympic dream as 10-man Bahrain staged a miraculous comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Coach Ong Kim Swee could only watch helplessly as his side were slaughtered with just 10 minutes to go by a side roused by the red card to Fahad Tareq Showaiter in the 61st minute.

Having done so well to go 2-0 up, injuries during the game to goalscorer Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Affize Faisal Mamat and Irfan Fazail left Malaysia short-handed in midfield, allowing Bahrain to tear through the heart of the Malaysian side.

"I don't know what to say. In five minutes, everything changed. We did not have enough midfield replacements after Affize went off injured and Nazmi suffered cramps while Irfan carried on with injury till the end.

"We lost control of the midfield and allowed Bahrain to move with ease. We paid a very high price and the work which went into scoring our two goals was wasted just like that," said Kim Swee after a third straight defeat which leaves Malaysia bottom of Group C and with little chance of progressing to the playoffs.

With K. Gurusamy and Ahmad Fakri Saarani suspended, Kim Swee put regular left-back Affize in  the defensive midfield role while Irfan Fazail and Fadhli Shas returned from injury.

Nazmi did well in his free role behind striker A. Thamil Arasu as Malaysia began smartly and it was the pint-sized 17-year-old who opened the scoring with a breathtaking strike from 30 metres out in the 30th minute.

Following Showaiter's dismissal by Uzbek referee Valentin Kovalenko for a studs-first challenge on Affize, Mahalli Jasuli added the second after an error by Bahrain goalkeeper Ashraf Waheed Al Sebaie in the 68th minute.

Then began the Bahrain fight-back as Saad Salah Al Amer's overhead kick reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the 81st minute before fellow substitute Isa Ahmed Muthanha hammered in a free-kick in the 85th minute and the winner a minute later as the Malaysian defence was stretched to breaking point.

"After going 2-0 down and losing a player to a red card, I had to make some changes," said Bahrain coach Salman Sherida.

"I sent in two attacking players and took out our defensive players to try to come back into the game.

"If we could score one goal, we can put them under-pressure. Malaysia is a good team but you need full concentration until the final whistle. When we scored the first goal, Malaysia were afraid to draw and stopped attacking.

"It was not an easy game but we are happy to have won."

Malaysia's next match is against Bahrain in Manama on Feb 5 next year ahead of group leaders Japan's visit to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 22.

Injury hit Gary Steven Robbat can't wait to return for Olympic squad

 It will be a year to forget for national Under-23 player Gary Steven Robbat after being hit by a string of bad luck.

Gary’s hard tackling and never-say-die attitude played a big role in helping Malaysia qualify for the Asian Zone final round Olympic qualifiers but since then he has yet to play for the team.

The midfielder was instrumental in Malaysia’s impressive displays against Pakistan (2-0 on aggregate) and Lebanon (2-1 on aggregate) in the opening two rounds respectively.

But it was downhill for Gary after that as he missed the opening final round qualifier against Japan as he was serving a suspension for a red card collected against Lebanon.

The Kedah-born player later aggravated a hamstring injury in training earlier this month and was left behind for the Indonesian SEA Games.

Gary was expected to be out for three weeks but a scan revealed that he had 2cm tear on his hamstring and will be out for a longer period. 

The disappointed 19-year-old playmaker said: “It is quite frustrating as I missed the SEA Games and now I have to miss the two matches against Syria and Bahrain in Kuala Lumpur.”

“I thought I could play in the Olympic qualifiers after missing the SEA Games but my bad luck struck again. I worked hard in training but then the injury came up again and I will be sidelined longer.

“I am happy the team won the gold medal in Indonesia but I’m disappointed that I was not a part of it.”

Gary will now have to wait until next year to play in the Asian Zone final round Olympic qualifying matches.

Malaysia will take on Bahrain at the Bahrain National Stadium on Feb 5 and Syria at the Prince Mohammed Stadium on Feb 22 before ending the campaign against Japan at the National Stadium on March 14. 

“I can’t wait to return to the team and start playing but, for now, I have to focus on my recovery,” said Gary.

“I still have three more Olympic qualifying matches to play.”

Bahrain come from behind to beat Malaysia in Olympic qualifer

Bahrain dashed Malaysia’s slim hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics with a come-from-behind 3-2 win at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here on Sunday.

Malaysia were the early aggressors in the match, taking the lead in the 3oth minute through Muhammad Nazmi Faiz, who was on target from long range.

Mahali Jasuli put Ong Kim Swee’s side 2-0 in the 68th minute and the national team looked set to hold on for full points in the Asian Zone final round Olympic qualifier.

However,  Bahrain spoilt it all for Malaysia in a five-minute spell towards the end of the match.

Saad Salah Al Amer pulled a goal back for Bahrain in the 81st minute before Isa Ahmed Muthana hit two on the trot – in the 85th and 86th minutes – to give his side a 3-2 win.

The national team have now lost all their three matches in the Olympic qualifier, including 0-2 defeats at the hands of Japan and Syria.

Before the win over Malaysia, Bahrain had lost their previous two matches – 1-3 to Syria and 0-2 to Japan.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Malaysia face Bahrain in must-win match in Olympic qualifier

Ong Kim Swee has termed today’s Olympic qualifier against Bahrain at the National Stadium as “do-or-die” following  defeats to Japan and Syria.

Coming on the back of the Sea Games victory last week, the Olympic squad crashed 2-0 to Syria in an Asian zone third round Group C clash in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday as fatigue set in.

As neither Malaysia nor Bahrain have picked up a point, defeat for either side would spell the end of their qualifying campaign.

Realising this, Kim Swee has placed the emphasis on attack and every available able body will be put forward today.

“The players look fresher but some have yet to return to 100 percent recovery. We still have a few players injured and those who are not able to train today (yesterday) will probably not play.

“We still have a chance but having lost two matches already, this is do-or-die for us. It’s the same situation for both teams and for the loser, the path to the next stage will be closed. We have to win if we want to reach the next stage,” said Kim Swee at a press conference at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

He is likely to be without centre-back Muslim Ahmad, who is troubled by a hamstring injury having played every minute of Malaysia’s six Sea Games matches and the Syria qualifier.

Fadhli Shas is set to step in while the fitness of midfielder Irfan Fazail and attacked Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim will be assessed today.

“I will decide tomorrow (this) morning whether the injured players can play or not. If Irfan can play, then our midfield will be more effective as he can partner Nazmi (Faiz Mansor).

“I want to play Nazmi in a more offensive role because we need to go for the win. If Syahrul does not make it, (A.) Thamil (Arasu) is the only forward I have available although I have Ferris Danial (Mat Nasir) and Ahmad Hazwan (Bakri) for cover on the bench.

 “We miss a creative presence as in Baddrol (Bakhtiar) during the Sea Games, who led the team very well. But we will have to make do with the players we have and in Khairul Fahmi (Che Mat), we have a capable leader,” added Kim Swee, in a hint that he may finally drop under-performing Ahmad Fakri Saarani from his first XI.

Kim Swee expects Bahrain to employ a similar game plan as Syria in using their height and pace to their advantage with their coach Salman Sharida looking at nothing less than three points to take home.

“Bahrain have lost two games but there are 12 points to play for. We have come here to take three points but it will not be easy against a Malaysian team who can count on the support of their crowd.

“The Malaysian team have good players and have very good tactics but both teams have a chance to win,”  said Sharida.

Malaysia look to Nazmi Faiz to beat Bahrain in Olympic qualifier

Ping-sized Nazmi Faiz Mansor may hold the key to Malaysia’s Olympic qualifying fortunes when he is handed the responsibility to guide the team to victory against Bahrain at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Nazmi was the biggest revelation in Malaysia’s Sea Games triumph and the 17-year-old schoolboy from Lembah Keramat in Kuala Lumpur has earned rave reviews for his composure and vision for someone so young.

Olympic coach Ong Kim Swee plans a new role for Nazmi against Bahrain after employing the midfielder as cover for the defence at the Sea Games.

Injury to Irfan Fazail and the ineligibility of Baddrol Bakhtiar means the team lack a creative spark, a void which Nazmi could fill.

“We have to be more offensive as we need to win this game. I am prepared to play Nazmi in a more attacking role since he has a good passing range and is able to deliver balls into the opposition area.

“We need the midfield to focus more on attack and Nazmi could play as a back-up striker,” said Kim Swee yesterday.

Nazmi was fast-tracked into the Sea Games squad after being recalled from the Malaysian youth side playing in the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifier in Vietnam.

He has impressed many with his ability on the ball which Kim Swee said he has not seen since the time of Azizol Abu Haniffa.

Even national coach K. Rajagobal has been keeping tabs on the teenager and is prepared to hand him a full international debut.

“Yes, I have been watching him and I’m impressed with his vision.

“Who knows, I could just play him in our next international, I’ve done crazy things before,” said Rajagobal when met at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

So what does little Nazmi think of all this attention on him?

“I just want to play to my best and help my team win.

“I feel comfortable playing with anyone on the team and I don’t have any problems adapting.
“I don’t want to stop with just winning the Sea Games gold. I want to achieve more success,” said Nazmi, who missed his SPM examinations to play at the Sea Games.

Best player award renamed to honour Mokhtar Dahari

The most prized award for professional football players in the M-League has been renamed after Mokhtar Dahari in a tribute to the former striker’s legendary displays for Malaysia during his heydays in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Most Valuable Player award at the annual 100Plus-Astro Arena-FAM National Football Awards will now be known as the Supermokh MVP award, which will be fought out between last year’s winner Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and his Kelantan teammate Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Safiq Rahim of Selangor.

The list of nominees was revealed yesterday after all the votes for the various categories were tabulated and finalised. This year, all Super League and Premier League head coaches voted for the players they felt were the best candidates for the various categories.

The winners will be revealed at a ceremony on Wednesday.

Not surprisingly, many of the players nominated are from the more successful teams this season including Super League champions Kelantan, FA Cup winners Terengganu and Malaysia Cup victors Negri Sembilan.

Best goalkeeper: Sharbinee Allawee Ramli (Terengganu), Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan), Farizal Marlias (Negri Sembilan);
Best defender: Aidil Zafuan Radzak (Negri Sembilan), Mazuki Yusof (Terengganu),  Norhafiz Zamani Misbah (Negri Sembilan);
Best midfielder: Badhri Radzi (Kelantan),  Safiq Rahim (Selangor), Joseph Kallang Tie (Terengganu);
Best striker: Hairuddin Omar (Negri Sembilan), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan), Abdul Hadi Yahya (Terenegganu);
Best coach: Irfan Bakti Abu Salim (Terengganu), Norizan Bakar (Perak), M. Karathu (Kelantan);
Most promising player: Fadhli Shas, Irfan Fazail, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor (all Young Tigers A);
Supermokh most vauable player: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan), Safiq Rahim (Selangor).

Ong Kim Swee looks to the future of Malaysian football

Malaysian Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee made heads turn at the SEAG ames. His boys survived the ‘Group of Death’ and the 100,000 vociferous fans to nail the gold.

Question : If not for football, what would you be doing today?

Ong Kim Swee : A cook maybe. I would probably be involved in the family business in Malacca. We have a Nyonya (Banya) restaurant, which my parents set up almost a decade ago. My brother is running the place now. I do go there from time to time. I am happy with things as they are now. My parents and wife have been supportive of my football career.

Question : What is the most memorable moment of your playing career?

Ong Kim Swee :  The winning goal that I scored against Thailand in the 1991 pre-Olympics at the Merdeka Stadium. I won the ball from the middle and dribbled past the Thai defence before scoring the goal. We won the match 1-0. It is my sweetest memory even though we did not qualify for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Question : How was the experience with the national Under-23 boys at the SEA Games in Jakarta? 

Ong Kim Swee : It was one hell of an experience. But I am glad it all worked out well. First, we were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ and the first thing that came to my mind was my future with the FA of Malaysia (FAM). Yes, the boys made it happen and we cannot take anything away from them as they beat the host nation twice before being crowned champions.
We overcame every challenge that came our way till the end. The hostile fans, the Barracuda rides, food poisoning, the distractions and being unable to go for training in peace, problems with the organisers, my sacking from the bench, not being given a walkie-talkie and, worst still, not being allowed to go into the field after the final whistle in the semi-finals. They did try every possible trick to get us worked up but we prevailed. 

Question : In the final against Indonesia, we spotted you seated alone on the bench during the nail-biting penalty shoot-out. Any reason?

Ong Kim Swee :  Honestly, I have had many bad experiences during shoot-outs and the worst was when we (Sabah) lost to Selangor in the 1996 Malaysia Cup final. 
That was my last chance to win a first champion’s medal in the Malaysia Cup but we blew it in the sudden-death shootout. It was a painful exit. I still don’t believe in penalty shootouts. 

Question : What is next after the back-to-back football success in the SEA Games?

Ong Kim Swee : I guess the ideal plan for us is to prepare for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. At least 12 of the players from the Jakarta SEA Games squad are eligible to play in the Asian Games, which is also an Under-23 tournament with three over-aged players. We should also have depth in our squad for the next SEA Games in Myanmar (2013).

Question :  In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle we have to overcome in order for Malaysia to achieve bigger goals?

Ong Kim Swee : We lack a pool of quality players, especially strikers. Even in the age groups, we are unable to find prolific goal-scorers. Imagine we have an 18-year-old (Syahrul Azawri Ibrahim) playing as the chief striker in the Under-23 squad at the Jakarta SEA Games. 
Then, we have a 17-year-old (Mohd Nazmi Faiz) in the playmaker role. Where are the 23-year-old players?

Name: Ong Kim Swee
Age: 41
Date of birth: Dec 11, 1970
Place of birth: Malacca
Marital status: Married to Alodie Donna Darick (kids Dasha, 3 and Dashie, 8 months)
Hobby: Playing with gadgets
Favourite club: Arsenal
Favourite manager: Arsene Wenger
Favourite food: Nyonya style
Dislikes: Pretenders
Best memory: Scored the winner against Thailand in 1991 pre-Olympics at the Merdeka Stadium.
Worst memory: Sabah’s loss to Selangor in the 1996 Malaysia Cup final on penalty shootouts.
Playing career: 1989 (Malacca), 1990-92 (pre-Olympic squad), 93-94 (Sarawak), 95-96 (Sabah), 98 (Malacca)
Coaching career:
2001 (Malacca youth),
2002-03 (Malacca M-League),
2004 (MPSJ – FAM Cup winners),
2005-2011 (FAM age group teams – Under-16, Under-19 (Harimau Muda B), Under-21 (Harimau Muda A), Pre-Olympic (Under-22), Jakarta SEA Games champions (Under-23).

Malaysia desperate to beat Bahrain to keep chances alive in Olympic qualifier

Malaysia have their backs against the wall as they need to beat Bahrain tonight to keep their slim hopes alive in the Asian Zone final round qualifying campaign for the 2012 London Olympics.

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee said it was a do-or-die mission for the lads after defeats to Japan and Syria, which they lost by similar 2-0 margins. 

“One more defeat will end our campaign but we are not going to give up without a fight. There is still a fighting chance to work our way up. 

“The boys look better today compared to their lethargic showing against Syria (Wednesday) due to fatigue,” said Kim Swee at a press conference at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

Kim Swee’s boys barely had any rest after their return from the SEA Games on Tuesday morning. They had an absorbing final against hosts Indonesia, who they beat 4-3 on penalty kicks after both teams were tied 1-1 at extra-time, on Monday. 

To compound matters, Kim Swee also has a long list of injury problems with three key players doubtful for tonight’s Bahrain match. They are centre-back Mohd Muslim Ahmad, midfielder Mohd Irfan Fazail and striker Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim.

“It all depends on whether they recover before match day but at the same time, I need to look at other options,” said Kim Swee.

Striker A. Thamil Arasu will lead the attack following the absence of injured duo Izzaq Faris Ramlan and Syahrul. Mohd Ferris Danial and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri are the other options up front.

“It does not matter who gets the goals but we need the three points. We will go on the offensive to get the goals,” said Kim Swee who is likely to push pint-sized midfielder Mohd Nazmi Faiz to be the back-up striker.

The back-line will include Mohd Fadhli Shas, Mohd Ameer Saidin (centre-back), Mahalli Jasuli (right), Mohd Zubir Azmi (left) and goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.

K. Gurusamy and Mohd Nazmi will be the keys in the heart of midfield while Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor and Fandi Othman should provide the sparks down the flanks.

Bahrain are in the same situation like Malaysia after two straight defeats to Syria (1-3) and Japan (0-2).

Coach Salman Ahmed Sharida said they were here to take three points.

“It won’t be easy because Malaysia play well at home. We had a long flight but the three points will be ours,” said Salman.

National player award renamed

The coveted Most Valuable Player (MVP) award of the 100PLUS-Astro Arena-FAM National Football awards this year has been renamed as the SUPERMOKH MVP Award and the winner will take home RM5,000. 

Previously, RM3,000 was awarded to the MVP winner.

Last year’s MVP Norsharul Idlan Talaha will defend his title against team-mate Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Selangor midfield maestro Safiq Rahim.

The list of nominees was revealed yesterday after all the votes for the various categories were tabulated and finalised. The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony on Nov 30.

This year, all the Super League and Premier League coaches voted for the players they felt were the best candidates for the various categories.

Most of the players nominated are from the more successful teams this season including league champions Kelantan, FA Cup winners Terengganu and Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan.

F and N Beverages Marketing Sdn Bhd Corporate Affairs manager Cariessa Goh said that the coaches are the best people to select the candidates.

“Coaches of the various league teams watch the players in action all the time and are in the best position to select the candidates for the awards,” said Cariessa Goh.

The nominees
Best Goalkeeper: Mohd Sharbinee Allawee Ramli
(Ter); Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kel); Mohd Farizal Marlias

Best Defender:Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak (Nse);
Mohd Mazuki Yusof (Ter); Norhafiz Zamani Misbah

Best Midfielder: Mohd Badhri Mohd Radzi (Kel); Safiq
Rahim (Sel); Joseph Kallang Tie (Ter)

Best Striker: Hairuddin Omar (Nse); Norshahrul Idlan
Talaha (Kel); Abdul Hadi Yahya (Ter)

Best Coach: Irfan Bakti Abu Salim (Ter); Norizan Bakar
(Prk); Datuk M. Karathu (Kel)

Most Promising Player: Mohamad Fadhli Mohd Shas
(Harimau Muda A); Mohd Irfan Fazail (Harimau Muda A);
Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor (Harimau Muda A).

SUPERMOKH Most Valuable Player: Khairul Fahmi
Che Mat (Kel); Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kel); Safiq Rahim

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Tired Malaysia need to beat Bahrain in Olympic qualifier

Bruised, battered and fatigued, the national Olympic team face just one more battle against Bahrain in Bukit Jalil tomorrow before earning a well-deserved break.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Syria in the Asian Olympic zone third round Group C match laid  bare the price paid for winning the gold at the Sea Games in Jakarta just two days before.

Muslim Ahmad, the only outfield player to have played every minute of every game in Jakarta and Bukit Jalil, is the perfect example of a player having run himself to the ground.

The centre-back hurt his hamstring in the second half on Wednesday and his intercepted pass, with tiredness being an obvious factor, led to Syria's late second goal.

"We've played four back-to-back matches with just one day in between so everyone here is tired. To make matters worse, I injured my hamstring in the second half and I played on with the pain.

"I don't know how serious it is and I'm hoping with some physiotherapy,  I can play against Bahrain on Sunday," said Muslim, who sat out yesterday's training session in Bukit Jalil.

Lack of cover on the bench meant Muslim had to soldier on against Syria after Fadhli Shas took ill but the latter's recovery means coach Ong Kim Swee has the option of playing Fadhli with Amer Saidin in defence.

Kim Swee also has Irfan Fazail as an injury doubt but Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim's ankle has healed and he will provide a much-needed attacking threat.

"Muslim and Irfan are my biggest concerns at the moment. I can only decide whether to play them on the day of the match.

"For now, the issue is match fitness. The players are tired after the Sea Games and if they are able to recover fully, I'm confident the team can perform well.

"We need a win against Bahrain because if Syria lose to Japan (away), we still have a chance (of finishing second in the group)," said Kim Swee.

Japan and Syria have six points each while Malaysia and Bahrain have none.

The three group winners qualify automatically for the 2012 London Olympics while the second-placed teams enter a mini league in Kuala Lumpur.

The winners here advance to a playoff against the fourth-ranked African team for a place in London.

Malaysia face lack of attacking options against Bahrain in Olympic qualifier

Strike force woes continued to bug the National Under-23 football team ahead of their Asian Zone third round Olympic qualifying match against Bahrain tomorrow.

Coach Ong Kim Swee paired Ahmad Fakri Saarani and A. Thamil Arasu upfront against Syria in Wednesday qualifier but the duo failed to click and rarely troubled opponents in the 2-0 loss.

Striker Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim and attacking midfielder Irfan Fazail are capable of adding fire power to the team but the dynamic duo have not fully recovered from their ankle and knee injuries which they picked up at Indonesia SEA Games.

The attacking duo returned to training at the National Sports Council (NSC) field yesterday but complained of slight pain, putting Kim Swee in a difficult position ahead tomorrow’s game.

Lanky striker Izzaq Faris Ramlan has been ruled out of tomorrow’s tie as he is down with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury.

Kim Swee said that he would have to make do with the players available and push for a win against Bahrain

“I still believe in Fakri and Thamil’s ability but obviously I’ll be happier if I have more options in attack,” said Kim Swee.

“There’s still time for Syahrul and Irfan to recover from their injuries and I won’t force them to play if they are in pain. We’ll be positive and hope that they recover.

“I have to do with what I have and winger Wan Zack Wan Haikal Wan Noor is starting to look sharp in training and it is another good news for us.”

Defender Mohd Fadhli Shas who missed the match against Syria due to high fever also rejoined training but his partner in defence Muslim Ahmad skipped training due to a pulled hamstring.

“We have Mohd Amer Saidin who played well against Syria to replace Muslim so I’m not really worried,” said Kim Swee who led the team to victory in the SEA Games football final against Indonesia on Monday.

Wan Zack wants to prove his worth against Bahrain in Olympic qualifier

After missing out on the Indonesia SEA Games, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor wants to make his presence felt for the National Under-23 team in the Asian Zone third round Olympic qualifier against Bahrain at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow.

Wan Zack injured his ankle during the opener of the Asian Zone qualifier against Japan in Fukuoka two months ago and was forced to skip the Games which saw Malaysia retaining the football gold medal.

The 20–year-old recovered in time to turn in a impressive performance in the qualifier against Syria on Wednesday.

Even National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee was impressed.

The Pahang-born winger was Malaysia’s main threat in that match and narrowly missed scoring in the 2-0 loss to Syria.

Wan Zack, who is on loan to Slovak club ViOn Zlate Moravce, will again be tasked to spearhead the Malaysian attack against Bahrain tomorrow.

“It would be a lie if I said it was not disappointing to have missed the SEA Games. However, I am happy the team retained the gold medal,” said Wan Zack.

“The match on Sunday is a good opportunity for us to get the full points and revive our hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics.

“The experience from playing against Syria gave us an idea on how to play Bahrain and we will be better prepared.

“We hope  to redeem ourselves in front of our own crowd after losing two matches in the qualifying campaign.”

Kim Swee admitted that he was surprised by Wan Zack’s performance against Syria.

“I’m shocked to see Wan Zack played for 90 minutes after not playing for almost two months. It showed that Wan Zack has been training on his own to regain match fitness and I think his attitude should be followed by the other players.”

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sports Minister believes Malaysia still have chance in Olympic qualifiers

Malaysia still have a chance to make a comeback in the match against Bahrain on Sunday despite having lost to Syria in the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Round, here last night, said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

He called on football fans in the country not to make a negative conclusion immediately following the defeat of the Harimau Muda squad.

Malaysia put up a good game last night, it was just that they had lost focus due to fatigue as they only had less than 48 hours to rest before meeting Syria, he told reporters here Thursday.

In the third round qualifying match of the Group C Olympics 2012 at the Bukit jalil National Stadium last night, Malaysia lost 0-2 to the Syrians who are popularly known as the Red Eagle.

Ahmad Shabery said the people should not place too much hope on the squad coached by Ong Kim Swee as the team had just entered a higher level after being proclaimed as the "South-east Asian King of Football" following their success in grabbing the football gold at the Indonesian SEA Games 2011 recently.

"The success of the Harimau Muda to be in the group of 12 top teams in Asia is considered a major achievement and it is a new experience for most of the players," he said.

He said most of the players in the Under-23 squad were aged between 18 and 19 and had a good chance of becoming famous players one day.

Coach Ong Kim Swee wants team to play better against Bahrain in Olympic qualifier

Malaysian under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee has vowed to repay Malaysian fans for their unwavering support with an improved display against Bahrain in their Olympic qualifying third round Group C match at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil on Sunday.

Kim Swee said he was moved by the Malaysian fans loyalty in supporting the team to the end in their 2-0 loss to Syria on Wednesday.

"I truly am touched by the support of fans who turned up to cheer us. Although we lost, the fans did not desert us and supported us till the end, and even after the match they stayed on and continued to sing and cheer for us," said an emotional Kim Swee.

"We will surely be giving it all on the pitch this Sunday to repay the fans for the loyalty and support they have shown us all this while. This is definitely what they deserve from us."

Kim Swee added that the return of several key players will boost the team's chances of a good showing against Bahrain. Malaysia, still without a point after two matches, anchor Group C with Syria leading the group on six points ahead of second placed Japan, also on six points, thanks to a better goal difference.

"We have lost two matches now and it will be tough for us to win the group, but we are still going to try to at least finish in second place," said Kim Swee.

"It was hard for us (against Syria) as we were playing less than 48 hours after the Indonesia game and were also missing a number of players.

"Fadhli Shas was supposed to play but we lost him on match day as he was down with a fever.

However, we are are confident he will be back for Sunday and also expect Irfan Fazail and Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim to be fit for the match."

Kim Swee added that he was especially pleased with the performance of a fit-again Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor on Wednesday and was expecting him to feature in the match against Bahrain.

The right-winger was left out of the recent Sea Games squad due to an ankle injury.

Coach Ong Kim Swee happy with team's performance against Syria

The Malaysia Under-23 team turned in a much improved performance despite their 2-0 loss to Syria in an Asian Zone third round Olympic qualifier at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.

Malaysia were outclassed by Japan in their opening Group C match in September but there’s a glimmer of hope  for Malaysian football going by the determined effort the team put up against Syria.

Coach Ong Kim Swee fielded nine players from the team who won the SEA Games gold medal on Monday against the Middle East side but as expected, the tired Harimau Muda could only play positively in the first half before they crumbled after the breather.

The Malaysia Under-23 team turned in a much improved performance despite their 2-0 loss to Syria in an Asian Zone third round Olympic qualifier at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.

Kim Swee praised his boys attitude in the match and has promised that his boys will continue to give their best for Sunday’s match against Bahrain.

“I am proud of the boys. They were very tired but still gave their all,” said Kim Swee.

“I’m also touched by the fans who stayed on to cheer the boys after the defeat to Syria.

“We played well in the first half but the players lost concentration in the second due to fatigue and made mistakes which cost us the game.

“Better teams like Syria, or Middle Eastern teams in general, are very good at taking their chances and they did it against us.”

Syria coach Emad Kan Khan said his team had control of the match as they were well prepared.

“We knew the Malaysian players would be tired after the SEA Games final and part of our plan was to tire them out in the first half,” said Emad.

“We piled on the pressure in the second half and focused on attacking from the wings to create chances and it paid off as they were clearly tired.”

The defeat against the Gulf state has put Malaysia in an uphill task to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics as Japan and Syria are in the driver’s seat to advance to the next round from Group C.

Nevertheless, Malaysia intend to pick up their first point when they play Bahrain at home on Sunday.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Malaysian players to receive reward for winning gold medal in SEA Games

The Malaysian Under-23 team who beat Indonesia in the final of the SEA Games football competition to win the gold medal are expected to receive RM30,000 each from Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Team manager Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said the squad under coach Ong Kim Swee would receive RM30,000 each for their win against Indonesia.

"After the win against Indonesia yesterday, Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to give each player RM30,000 as incentive," he said.

Hamidin said the squad would also be send to Sydney, Australia in mid-December for training cum friendly matches.

"After the FAM technical meeting we agreed to send the squad to Australia and hope the National Sports Council will support us," he said.

He added that the squad will face Syria in their Olympic Qualifier match Wednesday at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

"I hope the fans can come and support the team because only 2,000 tickets have been sold thus far. Our target is to sell at least 30,000 tickets," he said.

Tickets for grandstand seats are priced at RM40 and open terrace seats are priced at RM20.

Safiq Rahim not worried over work permit problems in United Kingdom

Malaysian team captain Safiq Rahim is undaunted by obstacles in obtaining a work permit to attend a trial with Cardiff City, United Kingdom starting Monday.

"If I am selected, I will leave all technical problems, including obtaining a work permit to the club's management. What is important, I will prove my worth," he told reporters before departing for Cardiff, Wednesday night.

Previously, national striker Safee Sali was stymied by the stringent work permit requirement when attended a trial at the same club as it would only be issued to players in world's top 70 football nations.

Safiq, 24, who spearheaded the national team in friendly matches against Arsenal and Liverpool, said the trial would be a very valuable experience for him and would put him in good stead in the national squad.

"I hope I can acclimatise with the club's rhythm quickly and get use to the weather," he added.
Safiq, who left for Cardiff on board Qatar Airways, will undergo a three-week trial at Cardiff City and return home on Dec 17 or 18.

Coach Kim Swee blames defence for defeat to Syria in Olympic qualifier

Fatigue and loss  of focus in the second half of the match have been attributed as the cause of the 0-2 defeat suffered by the national Olympic squad to Syria in the Group C Olympic qualifier at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium Wednesday night.

National Olympic squad chief coach Ong Kim Swee said the complacency of the defence in the second half also gave an opening to the Syrians to score their second goal.

"Our defenders lost concentration in the second half and this was made worse by tiredness as they had just returned from Indonesia and only had two hours of practice," he said at a press conference after the match.

Kim Swee said he did not have much choice in term of players due to various problems suffered by his wards.

"Mohd Fadhli Mohd Shas was down with fever this morning and could not be fielded while Mohd Irfan Fazail was injured.

"Both of them were expected to recover in two or three days time to face Bahrain on Sunday," he said.

On preparation for the match against Bahrain at the same venue, the 40-year-old coach said he would field several players who could not play in the match tonight.

"I may field the first 11 such as Mohd Fadhli, Mohd Irfan Fazail and Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim to strengthen our chance of finishing in the group behind Japan," he added.

Meanwhile, Syrian coach Immad Eddin Khankan said that he was impressed with the performance of Malaysian midfielder Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor.

"He gave a lot of trouble to our defenders but we managed to control him throughout the game," he said.

Second half goals give Syria win over Malaysia in Olympic qualifier

The national Olympic  squad failed to recover from Syria's onslaughts in the second half to succumb to a 0-2 defeat to Syria in an Olympic qualifier at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil Wednesday night.

It was Malaysia's second defeat after losing 0-2 to Japan in the opening encounter of the third round at the Tosu Stadium, Fukuoka, Japan.

The Malaysian under 23 squad went down in a hard fought battle after dominating most of the first half but their chances went begging.

The attacking combination of Ahmad Fakri and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor tore Syrian defence until the breather but to no avail.

However, a lapse of concentration proved costly for Malaysia when Solaiman Solaiman put Syria into the lead hardly five minutes into the second half.

With the spirit of Malaysian players faltering, Syria turned the tide against the home team but missed several sitters before Nassouh Nakkdahli sealed the issue beyond doubt in the 88th minute.

On Sunday, the Harimau Muda squad will meet Bahrain who also lost 0-2 to Japan 0-2 at the Al-Riffa Stadium, Bahrain on Tuesday.

Malaysia go down fighting to Syria in Olympic qualifier

A tired Malaysian side failed to stop Syria from collecting three points from their third round Olympic qualifying clash after losing 2-0 at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil yesterday.

National under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee, however, praised the fighting spirit shown by his players despite the loss but admitted fatigue got the better of the team in the second half of the match after less than 48 hours playing in the Indonesia Sea Games final.

"They played well in the first-half and managed to match Syria but when they tired in the second-half they lost concentration and made mistakes which cost us the game," said Kim Swee.

"Better teams like Syria, or middle eastern teams in general, are very good at taking their chances and they (Syria) showed that tonight.

"I am proud of the boys who, despite still being tired, gave it their all and managed to keep the bigger Syrian players at bay during the first half. It was also tough for us as we were missing a number of key players today (yesterday),"

Syria coach Immad Eddin Khankan said capitalising on the Malaysians' fatigue was part of his game plan ahead of the match.

"We had studied them play before the match and also saw them against Indonesia. We knew they would be tired and it was part of our tactic to tire them out in the first half by letting them run more.

"We came out attacking in the second-half and focused on using the wings to create chances and it paid off for us as they were clearly winded," he added.

A drab opening half saw both sides struggle to keep possession and only resulted in a number of half-chances for both teams.

Striker Thamil Arasu had a chance to put Malaysia ahead in the 18th minute after he was threaded onto goal by Muhamad Nazmi Faiz Mansor but was quickly caught by the retreating Syrian defenders, whose larger physique generally made it hard for the Malaysian frontline to make an impact throughout the match.

Syria had a chance of their own in the 22nd minute when a free-kick from Mahmoud Al Mawas was cleared onto the path of midfielder Zakaria Al Omari whose resulting shot from just outside the penalty box was tipped wide by goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.

The visitors again had a chance to go ahead two minutes later when some loose passing from Malaysia saw Solaiman Solaiman test Khairul Fahmi from distance. Solaiman again tested Khairul Fahmi with a similar shot in 40th minute but was again denied by the Malaysian keeper.

The young tigers' best chance to score in the first half came just before the break when K. Gurusamy's header from a Mohamad Fandi Othman free-kick forced Syrian keeper Ibrahim Alma into tipping the ball wide.

Syria came out firing in the second half and did not take long to get on the scoreboard with Solaiman heading home from close range in the 51st minute after Malaysia failed to deal with a throw-in from the visitors.

The goal visibly boosted the Syrian's confidence and dominated possesion for the most of the second half. Clearly not happy to sit on their one goal lead, they continued to push forward and a mazy run from striker Al Suma opened up space for Mohamed Fares to test Khairul Fahmi from close range in the 62nd minute.

Chances for the Malaysian side were few and far between from then on and perhaps their best chance to equalise came in the 68th minute when a long pass from substitute D. Saarvindran put Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor on goal only for the latter to handball under pressure.

Al Suma was again in the thick of the action in the 88th minute when he set up substitute Nassouh Nakkdahli to tap the ball in from close range to put the Syrian's 2-0 up and effectively place the match out of reach for the home side.

Malaysia will next face Bahrain in their next Olympic Qualifying group c match on Sunday at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Under-23 squad to train in Australia next month

The national Under-23 team is set to get a training-cum-playing stint in Australia in mid December.

The national Under-23 have been going to Slovakia for the stints since 2006 and the most recent was under coach Ong Kim Swee in July.

The stint have been rewarding as the young players have shown vast improvement and the SEA Games gold medal is testament.

Team manager Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said the National Sports Council (NSC) are supportive of the stint in Sydney.

Full stretch: Malaysia’s Muhammad Zubir Mohd Azmi (right) trying to block this shot from Syria’s Mardek Mardkian during their Asian Olympic qualifying match last night.

“After the FAM technical meeting we agreed to send the squad to Australia and NSC have accepted our request and are very supportive of it,” said Hamidin.

“Our plan is to play at least three top Australian sides and we hope to have a two-week stint there.”

Hamidin also revealed that the FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Sultan Ahmad Shah will reward the team for successfully defending the SEA Games gold medal on Monday

“After the win against Indonesia, Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to give each player and official RM30,000 from his own pocket as an incentive,” said Hamidin.

“FAM also will reward the players and the team official later.”

Tired Malaysia beaten by Syria in Olympic qualifier

A fatigued Malaysian side put on a spirited performance in their Asian Zone final round Olympic qualifier before going down 2-0 to the Syria at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Syria’s goal by midfielder Solaiman Solaiman and striker Nassouh Nakk Dahliin in the 53rd and 88th minute dashed the hopes of the 20,000 home crowd at the stadium.

Skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat continued his heroics after winning the SEA Games gold medal by denying the Syrians a victory by a bigger margin with several excellent saves.

The team started off well by playing good football with nifty short passes and had the better ball possession despite the Syrians having more attempts at goal in the first half.

The Malaysian defence, marshalled by Mohd Muslim Ahmad, did well to break the Middle Eastern sides attack spearheaded by lanky striker Omar Al Suma.

Malaysia’s best chance to score came in the 29th minute but winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Mansor’s poor ball control saw the ball trickled over the touchline.

Much maligned striker Ahmad Fakri Sarani also missed a glorious chance to put Malaysia ahead in the 31st minute but his shot from the edge of the box was easily collected by Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma.

Wan Zack had another good chance in added time of the first half but his header from Fandi Othman’s free-kick went wide.

Syria doubled their effort in the second half and had the Malaysian defence under pressure and were duly rewarded with the opening goal.

Malaysia were caught napping as a harmless throw in was flicked into the box and Solaiman rose above the rooted defence to head the ball in.

The fast tiring Malaysia side conceded the second goal when substitute Nassouh easily scored in the 88th minute after a poor pass from Malaysia’s Muslim.

The defeat drops Malaysia to the bottom of Group C while Syria go top of the group on goal difference with Japan on six points.

Bahrain are third as they have a better goal difference than Malaysia.

Malaysia play their final home game of the qualifying rounds against Bahrain on Sunday.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

No time to celebrate as Malaysia take on Syria in Olympic qualifier

Celebrations will be put on hold as the victorious Sea Games squad turn their attention to a crucial Asian Olympic third round Group C qualifier against Syria in Bukit Jalil today.
Goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, who returned to Kuala Lumpur with his teammates and coaches in the wee hours of yesterday.  said Monday's Sea Games final win over Indonesia will be forgotten for a moment.

"We won't be able to celebrate, at least not yet. We've got two more important matches to play in the Olympic qualifiers and that is our focus now," he said after a tense penalty shoot-out win at Gelora Bung Karno.

Fahmi saved Indonesia's final kick, taken by Ferdinan Sinaga, which allowed Baddrol Bakhtiar to score the winning kick to give Malaysia a second successive gold medal.

The Kelantan keeper said he guessed at the last minute where Ferdinan would place his kick and he dove right to palm it away.

"I could read his body language and sort of knew where he was going to put it.

"I did not have much time to study their spot-kick takers, only (striker Patrich) Wanggai and (captain) Egi (Melgiansyah). Egi shot straight and Wanggai was already off the pitch," said Fahmi, who denied Indonesia with a penalty save for the second successive year after also saving one in last year's AFF Cup final second leg in Jakarta.

Today, Fahmi will be joined by 13 teammates from the gold medal-winning squad for the Syria Olympic qualifier.

Baddrol, Asraruddin Putra Omar and Yong Kuong Yong, are all ineligible while Izzaq Faris Ramlan, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim and Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria are injured.

The Olympic squad will be strengthened by the return from injury of striker Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, midfielder Gary Steven Robbat and winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor for the clashes with Syria and Bahrain on Sunday.

Safiq Rahim goes on trial at Cardiff City

National skipper Safiq Rahim will get his long overdue chance to impress at Malaysian-owned English Second Division side Cardiff City.

The 24-year-old Selangor midfielder leaves for Cardiff today with high hopes of achieving a first for Malaysian football and take his football career to new heights.

National striker Safee Sali, who now plies his trade with Pelita Jaya in the Indonesian Super League, did enough to impress Cardiff manager Malky Mackay during the two weeks he was on trial in September. Safee was even dubbed the “Malaysian Beckham” by a Welsh newspaper and is likely to be a given a second trial by Cardiff.

Safiq, known for scoring with his trademark free-kicks, was earlier scheduled to leave for Cardiff in August but it was postponed because of his commitments with Selangor in the Malaysia Cup.

He scored from a free-kick against English Premier League giants Liverpool in Malaysia’s 3-6 defeat in a friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil in July.

“It is a chance that I have been waiting for. This is the best opportunity for me to show my football skills. I know it is tough but nothing is impossible. It is time for us to show that there are skilful footballers in Malaysia too,” said an excited Safiq, who captained Malaysia against Arsenal and Liverpool.

“Whatever the outcome, I hope to learn the finer points of the game during my trial at Cardiff and take my game to a higher level. Of course my dream is to become the first Malaysian to play in England.”

Cardiff is owned by Malaysian tycoon Datuk Chan Tien Ghee. He is eager to see a Malaysian playing professional football in England.

“We are glad to have Safiq in Cardiff for three weeks. He will be given the chance to train with the first team,” said Tien Ghee.

FA of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said Safiq’s trials with Cardiff “is another step in the right direction” for Malaysian footballers.

“England have the best professional football league in the world. Our players must do more to impress the coaches and managers. They must also be highly disciplined,” added Tengku Abdullah.

Syria looking to beat Malaysia and stay top in Olympic qualifier

Syria will be looking to consolidate their position on top of Group C when they take on Malaysia in the Asian Zone final round qualifying for the London Olympics at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Coach Emad Kan Khan was in gracious mood at the pre-match press conference as he congratulated the Malaysians for winning the SEA Games gold medal. But there was no hiding the fact that the Syrians will be gunning for all three points today.

The Syrians arrived on Sunday to acclimatise and are well prepared to face a fatigued Malaysian side who toiled for 120 minutes before edging Indonesia 4-3 in the penalty shootout after the teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after extra time.

“We watched Malaysia yesterday and have a clear idea of what to expect,” said Emad at Wisma FAM.

“The Malaysian players are fast and play well as a team. I believe the home crowd support will  give them  a real boost.

“But we know what to do. We intend to stay unbeaten.”

Mohammed Fares, who was part of the Al Ittihad squad that won the AFC Cup last year, is expected to spearhead the Syrian attack.

 However, talismanic striker Oday Al Jaffal is unavailable due to injury.

Malaysia face tough task against Syria in Olympic qualifier

There is no time for celebration as Malaysia, the newly-crowned SEA Games champions, go straight into battle on another front today.

The team take on Syria in the Asian Zone final round Olympic qualifying tournament today.

Expectations are high after the success in Indonesia but, realistically, the team, who flew straight back after their epic win on Monday, face a difficult task. Not only are they very much fatigued heading into the match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, they must also somehow motivate themselves to rise to the occasion. Not an easy task so soon after the high of Jakarta.

There is no time for celebration as Malaysia, the newly-crowned SEA Games champions, go straight into battle on another front today.

Coach Ong Kim Swee and the players will be in a confident mood after defending the SEA Games gold medal by edging Indonesia 4-3 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra-time.

However, they go into battle again after less than 48 hours without several key players who were injured in the SEA Games.

“If I had a say we wouldn’t be playing today as our players are still fatigued. But we have to follow the schedule,” said Kim Swee yesterday.

“This is not Asean level football so we can’t expect miracles. To get a point would be a good result but we are not going to settle for a draw at home.

“The crowd can play a vital role in motivating the players. I hope they will be there to support our players just like the Indonesian fans did for their team.”

Most of the players from the triumphant SEA Games squad will be making up the team except for skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar, leftback Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar and striker Yong Kuong Yong, who are overage. The Olympic qualifiers are for players Under-22.

Strikers Izzat Farris Ramlan, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim and winger Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria are confirmed out with injuries picked up in Jakarta.

Midfield maestro Gary Steven Robbat, who missed the SEA Games through injury, is still unavailable while midfielder Mohd Irfan Fazail and flanker Fandi Othman are doubtful starters.

However, winger Wan Zack Wan Haikal, who hurt his ankle during the 2-0 loss to Japan in Fukuoka two months ago, is back in contention after missing the SEA Games.

Syria, who beat Bahrain 3-1, top Group C ahead of Japan on goal difference.

Only 3.5 slots are given to Asia for the Olympics. The three group winners advance automatically while the three runners-up will play another round of matches before the winners face a playoff against another qualifier from Africa.