Saturday, 31 December 2011

Kelantan given tough group in President Cup

Defending champions Kelantan have been drawn in a tough group for next year's President's Cup tournament.

They will have to contend with tough sides like the Bukit Jalil Sports School, Kedah and Club side T-Team in Group A which is made up of 13 teams.

At the draw witnessed by FA of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad at Wisma Fam today, last year's runners-up MP Muar were drawn in Group B for the knockout format tournament together with among others Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Perak. Group B has 15 teams.

The draw for the FAM league saw the entry of three new teams in the nine-team league namely Sinar Dimaja Maisarah (SDM) Pulau Pinang and Pulau Pinang which were relegated from this year's Premier League and Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP).

The FAM league is played in the round robin format with the winner gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2013.

The President's Cup kicks off on Jan 26 while the FAM League on Jan 29.

Malaysian Super League and Premier League to use new logos next season

Malaysia's Super League and Premier League are getting brand new logos respectively for the 2012-2014 season.

Unveiled by Malaysia Super League Sdn Bhd (MSL) in a statement today, the logos were inspired by the 'Play' shape, which is commonly found in all media playing devices.

"Both logos are specially designed in line with the original purpose of the football itself which is 'Play'.

"The shape 'Play' had been stylized and applied into the logo, creating a solid shape to hold the other elements which create differentiation between each logo," said MSL, an entity which serves as the commercial arm of Malaysian football.

It said the Super League logo was formed from the imagery of the Super League trophy itself which shows the upper part of the trophy where a ball stands on top of the star-shaped tower which signifies the highest football league in the nation.

The combination of the dark blue and white colour represents the meaning of solidarity and prestige to the league, it said.

For the Premier League logo, the ball is composed into the composition to bring out a meaning of football movement.

"The moving ball shape was designed to create a story where the journey to football recognition begins here. The black and yellow are chosen as the official colours to align itself with the national body and team," it said.

MSL said the fonts used were uniquely and specially designed to fit the character which had similarities with the tiger stripes.

It said the Astro logo is placed into the league logos as their commercial rights holder and a new sponsor's logo might replace the Astro logo should there be any further partners coming in from their rights holders.

The Premier League will kick-off on Jan 9 while the Super League a day later.

Singapore fans worried S-League may get affected badly

Singapore football fans yesterday urged supporters not to abandon their embattled domestic league as the country prepares to re-enter competition in neighbouring Malaysia.

Local supporters’ group ‘Lions All The Way’ will hold a roadshow in the busy Orchard Road shopping district this weekend to promote the 12-team S-League, whose attendances have hit an all-time low after a spate of scandals.

The group fears the S-League will become overshadowed by the Malaysian Super League, in which a Singapore representative team will play for the first time in 17 years from next month.

“We want Singaporeans to give the S-League a chance. After all, this is the league that produces players for the national team and the team that will play in the Malaysian league,” said the group’s founder Arief Aditya, 22.

“We need to put more focus on the S-League. No top footballing country has  a poor local league,” he said.

Singapore will be represented in the league by LionsXII, a selection of  national Under-23 and senior players, after an agreement this year ended nearly two decades of rocky relations with Malaysian football authorities.

Singapore were a stalwart in the Malaysian league until 1994, when they walked out in a dispute over gate receipts.

The return has been welcomed by fans and media, but it may deal another blow to the S-League which has suffered scandals involving match-fixing,  financial irregularities and on-pitch brawls. Average attendance has slipped to about 1,000.

The FA of Singapore was not available for comment. The  city-state, with a world ranking of 145th, has a dearth of home-grown talent with several foreign-born recruits playing for the national team.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Singapore to cover cost of Malaysian referees for Super League matches

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Local Competition Committee chairman Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said Football Association of Singapore (FAS) would foot the refereeing bills incurred when Lions XII (Singapore's under-23 squad) play host to 13 other teams in the Super League at the Stadium Jalan Besar.

"The cost include fees for Malaysian referees and assistant referees as well as their lodging, food and drink," he said.

He said the FAS, however, would be allowed to fix ticket prices for matches involving Lions XII at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"We usually set the ticket price at RM10 besides a levy of 10 per cent for matches there (Singapore) but it is up to them (FAS) to determine ticket prices," he said, adding that the same condition applied to state football associations for the Malaysian leagues.

Cambodian club to play in FA Cup next season

The Cambodian FA Cup champion, Preach Khan Reach FC will replace Harimau Muda B (the national under-19 squad) in the Malaysia FA Cup Championship next season.

This was decided by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Local Competition Committee as Harimau Muda B would be taking part in the Triangular  Championship in Singapore from Feb 17 to 21 front and the Hassanal Bolkiah Cup in Brunei from Feb 25 to March 5, said its chairman, Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin.

"The Cambodian team will replace Young Tigers B only for the FA Cup and will make the Bukit Jalil National Stadium as their main stadium.

"Preach Khan Reach FC would bear all the expenses incurred during the FA Cup," he told reporters after chairing the committee's meeting at Wisma FAM here Thursday.

Ticket prices for Malaysia Cup and FA Cup streamlined

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has streamlined the ticket prices for the finals of the Malaysia Cup and the FA Cup as well as matches involving the senior national squad and Harimau Muda A for all seats beginning next season.

FAM vice-president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said tickets for the finals of the Malaysia Cup and the FA Cup had been fixed at RM40 while for friendlies involving the senior national squad and the Harimau Muda A, the price would be RM20.

 He said that for group competitions for any championship involving the two teams, however, the ticket would be RM30 for the preliminary rounds, RM40 for the semifinals and RM50 for the final.

"For the Charity Shield match between Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan on Jan 7, in Kota Baharu, the ticket has been fixed at RM15 for the uncovered seats and RM30 for the covered seats.

"We decided on these prices after having thorough discussions with the Ticket and Gate Committee and these ticket prices may be maintained for several seasons," he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the Local Football Competitions Committee (JKPT) at Wisma FAM, Thursday.

Commenting on the condition of the stadiums affected in holding the Malaysia League matches next season, Hamidin said 11 stadiums were allowed by the FAM to be used at night while seven would hold matches in the day time due to problems of the flood lights and the grass pitch.

The 11 stadiums are Stadium Utama Negeri Kangar (Perlis), Stadium Darul Aman (Kedah), Stadium Perak, Stadium Mini Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Stadium Sultan Mohamad ke-IV (Kelantan), Stadium Mini Temerloh (Pahang), Stadium Nasional Bukit Jalil, Stadium Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ), Stadium Tunku Abdul Rahman Paroi (Negeri Sembilan), Stadium Majlis Perbandaran Pasir Gudang and Stadium Negeri (Sarawak).

He said that the seven stadiums that would hold day matches would be the Stadium Likas (Sabah), Stadium Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah (Terengganu), Stadium Majlis Perbandaran Selayang (MPS), Stadium Hang Tuah and Stadium Hang Jebat (Melaka), Penang Municipal Council Stadium and Stadium Batu Kawan.

Singapore and Kelantan struggle in pre-season friendlies

The anticipated blockbuster on the opening day of the Super League between Singapore’s LionsXII and Kelantan on Jan 10 may turn out to be a tame affair with both teams still struggling in their pre-season preparation.

LionsXII, marshalled by six internationals, were beaten 3-2 by Premier League side Johor in their first pre-season match last weekend before they were held 1-1 by newly promoted Super League club PKNS at the MBPJ Stadium on Wednesday.

As for Kelantan, they were edged 4-3 on aggregate by Indonesian Premier League side Persebaya in the Unity Cup after going down 3-2 in the return leg in Surabaya on the same day.

LionsXII captain Shahril Ishak felt it was an improved performance as his team managed to carve out several goal scoring opportunities against PKNS.

They face big spenders Armed Forces in their third tune-up match at the Selayang Stadium today.

“It will be another tough game, especially as we will have only a day’s rest. With Kelantan in mind, we have to be careful not to get injured as well,” Shahril told yesterday.

In Surabaya, Kelantan FA president Tan Sri Annuar Musa said his team were unlucky not to win the match.

“We learnt a lot from this match especially about our four import players. We will only pick two of them for the Super League.

“(Peter) Butler used the 4-5-1 formation first but the players failed to adapt to it. We only played well when Butler changed the formation to 4-4-2,” said Annuar.

Kelantan face east coast rivals Terengganu in their final pre-season match on Saturday.

Five teams to have afternoon matches after stadiums fail flood lighting test

Five Super League teams – Terengganu, T-Team, Sabah,  Kuala Lumpur and  Felda United – will  begin their campaigns in the 2012  season, which starts on Jan 10, in the afternoon.

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) made the decision yesterday after the home venues of these teams either failed to meet the specifications for flood lighting or pitch condition for the M-League.

According to regulation, flood lighting must have a minimum illumination reading of 800 lux.

The concerned venues are the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium (Kuala Terengganu) and  Likas Stadium while the KLFA Stadium, the home venue of KL, is closed for repairs. KL will play their home matches at the Hang Jebat Stadium.

Other stadiums, which failed to meet the requirements for  lighting were the City Stadium, Batu Kawan Stadium (Penang), Selayang Stadium (KL), Hang Tuah Stadium and the Hang Jebat Stadium (Malacca).

The KLFA Stadium, along with the Larkin Stadium and Shah Alam Stadium, which are all under repairs, are expected to re-open in March or April while the Darulaman Stadium will only host M-League matches after the Malaysia Games in July.

FAM local competitions committee chairman Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, however, said the concerned teams could appeal over the committee’s decision within the seven days.

“Overall, we are happy with the condition of the M-League venues. Some State FAs took the initiative  to get their stadiums ready for the league,” said Hamidin after chairing the competitions committee meeting at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

Hamidin is also confident that the league would run smoothly without major disruptions.

“We took into account Fifa’s window for international matches and also the commitments of our national teams before drafting the fixtures.

“This season’s schedule is tight but if the association receives attractive offers from world class teams, for example Brazil, for international friendlies, we will look into them carefully before deciding the next course of action,” said Hamidin.

On whether FAM would extend the registration of foreign players, Hamidin said the association had decided not to entertain it.

“Teams, who want to register and drop players, can only do so during the transfer window period on April 2-16. Two foreign players - Lelo Mbele (Selangor) and Daniel Soares Neves (Kedah) have yet to get their respective International Transfer Certificate but both would be issued one on Jan 7 through the assistance of Fifa.

FAM received applications from 26 import players for the league and nine were rejected due to various reasons.

Hamidin also revealed that Young Tigers B will skip the FA Cup for two international tournaments.

Tigers B, comprising the national Under-19 players, will compete in a three-nation tournament in Singapore and Brunei’s Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, both in February.

“Cambodia’s Preach Khan Reach FC have replaced Tigers B in the FA Cup and they face Penang in the first round on Feb 18,” he said.

FAM also paid out incentives and grants amounting to RM5.167 million to M-League teams on Dec 28.

“This payout is for last season. As for now, we do not owe State FAs and other affiliates money. However, I would like to advise  them to use the sum to settle their dues,” added Hamidin. 

M-League (2012) facts:
Prize money — Super League:  RM750,000 (Champions), RM450,000 (runners-up), RM300,000 (third placing); Premier League: RM300,000 (Champions), RM150,000 (Runners-up), RM75,000 (third placing);
Ticket prices — FA Cup and Malaysia Cup finals: RM40, Charity Shield: RM15 (open), RM30 (grandstand).

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sarawak confident of making positive impact next season

Sarawak football fans are optimistic their team would make a positive impact on the 2012 Super League campaign.

Their optimism is fuelled by remarkable results in their Pre-season playing tour in Bandung, Indonesia and friendlies against the Sabah Super League team.

The back four looked solid and the midfield creative.

The strike force could not be fully assessed as the Crocs’ top strikers are still injured.

Sarawak were unbeaten in six-matches thus far and netted an impressive nine goals while keeping four clean-sheets – statistics that point to great tidings for the state team in the new season.

A strong crowd of nearly 3,000 came to watch and support the Crocs on their first friendly against Sabah, and another 2,000 were at the State Stadium to see the second encounter; far more spectators on average as compared to those coming to watch Sarawak’s Premier League matches.

The Crocs step into a new era of football come Jan 10 when they face-off with Kuala Lumpur at home in their inaugural match of the Malaysian Super League campaign.

A win in front of their home fans could prove vital for the Crocs as this will provide the right tonic and supply the much needed momentum for them in a busy January schedule of five-matches.

Sarawak travel to Sabah for a ‘Borneo Derby’ on Jan 14 right after the Kuala Lumpur
encounter, followed by a home match against powerhouse Terengganu on Jan 17.

Another tough match is on the card as the Crocs face Selangor away on Jan 21.

Sarawak cap their January schedule by facing the highly fancied Negeri Sembilan team at the State Stadium on Jan 28.

Kelantan lose to Indonesian club in Unity Cup match

The Kelantan FA team lost to the Persebaya Surabaya Club 2-3 in the second-leg of the Malaysia-Indonesia Unity Cup at the Gelora Stadium, Surabaya, East Java Wednesday night.

With the result, Persebaya emerged as champion with 4-3 aggregate. In the first leg match in Kota Baharu on Dec 23, both teams drew 1-1.

In the match last night, although Kelantan were in control of the game during the earlier part of the game, Persebaya managed to break the Kelantan defence in the 16th minute when striker Andik Vermansyah found the net.

Kelantan only managed to equalise two minutes into the second half through Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.

Persebaya scored another two goals through Feri Ariawan (65th min) and Octavio Dutra (72nd) while Kelantan managed to reduce the margin through Indra Putra Mahyuddin who scored shortly before the final whistle.

Congolese striker Mbele working hard to be fit for Selangor

Congolese striker Blaise Lelo Mbele could yet feature for Selangor on the opening day of the Super League against Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan on Jan 10.

The 24-year-old returned to training with Selangor on Wednesday after recovering from a ruptured thigh muscle.

The former international had turned up injured for a trial with Selangor a few weeks ago but the former Super League champions signed him anyway following a favourable medical assessment.

Selangor FA secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said Mbele was working hard in training to get back his fitness.

"Mbele is responding well but we will continue to monitor him in training before making a decision whether we should send him out to play in competitive matches," said Hamidin yesterday.

Mbele is expected to make his first appearance for Selangor in a friendly against Pahang tomorrow.

"Mbele should be ready for this match but if he is not ready, we will test him against Pos Malaysia on Jan 3," said Hamidin.

Mbele, a member of the Congolese 2006 African Nations Cup team, has played for eight clubs before signing  for Selangor on a two-year contract.

He was a free agent  after Kuwaiti club All Naser, who hired him in July, terminated his contract after he injured his thigh muscle.

Hamidin was confident Mbele would be the top marksman in the Super League.

"Mbele wants to get his football career back on track with Selangor. We are expecting him to make an impact," he added.

Mbele, however, has not received his International Transfer Certificate.

New signings Famirul Ashraf Sayuti and Wan Mohd Hoesne Wan Hussian along with Amri Yahyah and R. Surendren are Selangor's other strikers this season.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sabah players urged to give full effort in President Cup

The President Cup players for the new season have been urged to give their full commitment in their training session.

Coach Johnny Dominicus told the players on Tuesday that he expects the players to give one hundred percent effort in order for the team to make an impact in the competition, which will start on Jan 26.

He said discipline is of utmost importance for the young players and warned that any players whom he or any of the officials find that have failed to produce their best may face the axe.

He reminded the players that only 18 players would get to travel with the team for the competition and hopes that will drive them to train even harder in a competitive way to make the squad.

He told Express Sports after their training session at the Likas Sports Complex lake jogging track that the State FA is allowed to review the position of their players 30 days after the first match.

"We may drop any players during the period and this is good as it will put the players on their toes and not taking their position in the squad for granted."

Meanwhile, three players who had played for other teams in the President Cup competition last season have all reported for duty.

Two of them have three years of experience with goalkeeper Nik Yus Saiddatul Sofien B. Yusup from Labuan who played for Sime Darby team last season and two years for Felda United previously.

While fellow islander Razid B. Gaffar who is a centre back, having plied his trade at KL Plus for one year and for the past two years with the Kuala Lumpur team.

The other is Tawau born Mohd Izdihar Qaedi Bin Jidi.

The 17 -year-old right back who had just completed his SPM examination played for Bukit Jalil Sports School last season.

The trio were seen joining the other players in their second day of training and they were given some light strength training followed by some footwork and agility training in the afternoon.

The team will be given their first taste of competitive match against UMS in a friendly match at the UMS stadium tonight at 7.30pm.

Defending champions Kelantan to play Singapore in opening match of 2012 season

Expect nail-biting clashes on the opening day of the 2012 Super League season, which kicks-off on Jan 10.

Defending champions Kelantan will travel across the Causeway to take on Singapore's LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The match will mark Singapore's return to Malaysian football after a 17-year hiatus and it is expected to bring out the best of both teams.

LionsXII, coached by former international V. Sundramoorthy, have named a mixed squad of seniors and Under-23 players for the M-League. They will also compete in the Malaysia Cup and FA Cup.

As for Kelantan, also  FA Cup runners-up, they are determined to get off to a good start in the league.

The team, led by national striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, have signed  several big names this season, among them  former international Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Norfarhan Mohamad and Lebanese striker Mohammed Ghaddar.

Kelantan will also be involved in the season opener Charity Shield, where they will face Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan, in Kota Baru on Jan 7.

Reigning FA Cup champions Terengganu begin their campaign with a trip to Perak, while perennial challengers Selangor, who finished third last season, play Negri in Paroi.

Newly-promoted sides PKNS FC and Sarawak kick off against Johor FC and Kuala Lumpur respectively, while Terengganu-based T-Team face Kedah.

Those anticipating a rematch between last season's top two will have to wait until Feb 11 when Kelantan play host to Terengganu in Kota Baru.

Selangor fans looking to relive the Malaysia Cup glory days  will have to wait patiently until Feb 7 to resume their old rivalry with Singapore at the National Stadium, while the second match is scheduled on June 23.

Sabah will be looking to improve on last season's 10th placing when they start their campaign against Felda United.

The Borneo side have a decent squad, marshalled by last season's Premier League top scorer Bobby Gonzales and Australian duo Brendan Gan and Michael Baird.

FA of Malaysia local competitions chairman Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said the venues and timing of matches would be finalised tomorrow.

"We have completed the fixtures but there could be minor changes in terms of scheduling, venues and timing during the league," said Hamidin yesterday.

The Super League is scheduled to end on July 14. As for the Premier League, the competition, comprising 12 teams, starts on Jan 9 and ends on July 13.

Sime Darby now wiser and stronger for new season

Sime Darby FC are aiming for a top two finish in the 2012 Premier League, a target which coach Ismail Zakaria is confident is within reach.

Sime Darby have strengthened their squad and Ismail believes his team will build on last season's experience. 

Sime Darby started off well in their debut last season before losing pace and finishing fifth.
Other teams, however, took notice of Sime Darby's potential when they defeated Pahang 6-0 on aggregate in a two-leg play off tie to qualify for the Malaysia Cup.

Ismail said his team were now wiser and stronger. 

"We had problems with injuries towards the end of last season, which eventually cost us a fighting chance of earning promotion," said Ismail at the unveiling of the team at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

"As for this season, we have strengthened our squad with several new signings in the midfield and forward positions."

Among the new faces are two Liberian internationals -- striker Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and midfielder Sengbah Kennedy.

On the team's target, Ismail said his team were the favourites to earn promotion.

"It will be tough as not only do we have to be wary of big spenders Armed Forces, we  also need to watch out for three state teams -- Johor, Pahang and Perlis," he said.

Ismail said his team's preparation for the season was on track.

"Our players, including the newcomers, are beginning to play as an unit. We had a few good results in friendly matches and it should give my players some confidence ahead of the season.

"However, I need to work on  several aspects of the game that they are weak in," added Ismail.
The Premier League kicks off on Jan 9 and ends on July 13. The fixtures will be released on Friday.

Sime Darby relying on Liberian players to do well next season

Premier League side Sime Darby FC are all the wiser for missing out on promotion to the Super League last season.

Sime Darby’s Premier League debut got off to a good start before hitting the skids in the second half of the season and they finished fifth out of 12 teams.

Coach Ismail Zakaria said they have learnt their lesson well and taken steps to rectify the flaws.

“We had an injury crisis towards the end of the season. 

“We lost our attacking players and it ruined our chances of promotion,” Ismail said at the presentation of the 2012 team in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“For the new campaign, we have added depth by signing on young players to bolster the midfield and attack.” 

Among Sime Darby’s notable signings are two Liberian internationals – striker Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and midfielder Sengbah Kennedy. They have also roped in former PKNS players Mohd Zamri Hassan and Irme Mat and Johor’s Mohd Shoufiq Mohd Khusaini.

Ismail has also given a new lease of life to troubled former Perak hitman Razali Umar Kandasamy and retained his defence, which conceded only 12 goals in 22 matches last season.

“Some have questioned our decision to sign Razali but we believe in his abilities and are happy with his performance in training and the friendlies,” said Ismail.

On Sime Darby’s target, Ismail said: “It will be difficult to gain promotion as the competition will be much tougher.

“Although Armed Forces and Sime Darby are regarded as the favourites, state sides like Pahang and Perlis will be strong contenders as well.”

Sime Darby kick off their campaign on Jan 9 with a home game against Harimau Muda B at Selayang MC Stadium.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Sabah coach worried over team's lack of goals

After seeing his team beaten 1-0 in the first match and held to a scoreless draw in the second against arch-rivals Sarawak last week, Sabah head coach Justin Ganai said that his team was not ready to face the challenges of next season’s Malaysian Super League (MSL).

Justin said that Sabah would need to play more (friendly) matches after last Thursday 0-0 draw with Sarawak.

“I expected Sabah to score a few goals in the friendlies against Sarawak at the State Stadium.
“It does not matter if the team draws or loses the match, but the most important thing is that the team managed to score,” he added.

However, his team failed to score a single goal in the two matches against the crocs losing the first match 1-0 on Tuesday and drawing 0-0 on Thursday.

Safee Sali confident Indonesian league will overcome problems

Malaysian striker Safee Sali reiterated his desire to renew his contract with Pelita Jaya FC despite the current strife at the Indonesian club due to an imminent ban by FIFA.

The 27-year-old sensational striker who contract expires by end January (FIFA), remains confident that the All Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) and FIFA would be able to resolve the crisis that could prevent him from featuring for the Malaysian national team.

Safee said he was prepared to face any eventuality and has a 'Plan B' in place in the event that the crisis could not be resolved.

"Since I believe the problem can be solved by PSSI and FIFA soon, the opportunity to play abroad must be used to the fullest. I am ready to extend my contract with Pelita Jaya," he told reporters at Mutiara Damansara near here.

Safee, a former Selangor stalwart said in the event that his club Pelita Jaya or the PSSI was banned, he would either play for Brisbane Roars in the Australian A League or play for a Belgium club that is also owned by the owner of Pelita Jaya, Nirwan Dermawan Bakrie.

"I don't want to think of this problem...I am not concerned because it is actually an administration and management problem involving the football association of Indonesia.

"I am a professional player who only want to play on any league that can help improve my capacity as well as that of the national team," said the Kajang-born player.

He added that the extraordinary support from the local fans was one of the main factors in his decision to remain at the club.

Scoring seven goals in 14 appearances was a good achievement throughout the 2011 season with Pelita Jaya, he said.

Safee moved to Pelita Jaya last season after his exploits in the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010. Since then, he has been the talisman for the side as he scored seven goals to help them beat the drop last season.

This campaign, he was appointed the captain of the team and is expected to be retained in the position for the new season which starts on Feb 15.

Sime Darby looking for promotion to Super League

Club side Sime Darby FC hope to finish among the top two teams in the Premier League and gain promotion to the Super League in 2013.

Sime Darby FC acting President Datuk Seri Tengku Ahmad Shah Abdul Aziz Shah hoped that after missing the opportunity last season, the current inclusion of 13 new faces, including two Liberian imports in the squad, would help fulfill the target.

"We retained 10 players from last season and roped in two players from the President's Cup squad," he told reporters here Tuesday.

Last season, Sime Darby FC who stayed among the top two teams in the Premier League for the better part of the league, lost steam and finished fifth in the league table comprising 14 teams.

Tengku Ahmad Shah said coach Ismail Zakaria was also retained and he would be assisted by Abdul Ghani Malik and Shaharuddin Ahmad Mokshinon.

He said the two import players from Liberia, Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and Sengbah Kennedy, aged 21 and 24 respectively, had featured in a number of friendly matches, including against Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu and Selangor.

Sime Darby FC open their 2012 Premier League against Harimau Muda B at the Selayang Stadium on Jan 9 and kick off their FA Cup campaign against Sabah at the same stadium on Feb 19.

Sime Darby FC squad:
Mohd Redzuan Harun, Muhammad Hafiz Samsuddin, Mohd Soffuan Tawil, Mohd Fairuz Abdul Aziz, Muhd Nuraliff Zainal Abidin, Es Lizuan Zahid Amir, Kamarul Afiq Kamaruddin, Mohd Hairul Nizam Haniff, Mohd Shazlan Alias, Mohd Arif Ismaail, Mohd Badrul Hisyam Morris, Mohd Nor Ismail, Rosli Muda, Muhd Fadly Baharum, Mohd Asyraf Mohd Al-Japri, Mohd Shoufiq Mohamad Kusaini, Mohd Asrol Ibrahim, Azmirul Azmi, Mohammad Syukur Saidnin, Sengbah Kennedy, Mohd Faiz Mohd Isa, Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh, Mohd Irme Mat, Muhammad Zamri Hassan, Razali Umar Kandasamy.

T-Team's foreign players leave dinner party early

Christmas cheers turned into jeers when Zambian striker Zacharia Simukonda and Bosnian defender Bojan Petric snubbed a dinner party hosted by Permai Hotel in their honour on Saturday.

The T-Team foreign signings appeared at the hotel just after 8pm and left abruptly at  8.20pm, 10 minutes before the  party began.

T-Team representative Ziani Abu Bakar, who accompanied the footballers, could not stop them from leaving as they cited tiredness as their reason for  leaving early.

"They came  in their own cars and I could not do much when they said they were tired  and walked out.

"I tried to talk  them  into staying a while longer as they were the guests of honour  but they were adamant about leaving," he said.

Hotel general manager Azman Ali said staff who are mostly T-Team fans were disappointed when they could not meet the two players.

"We realised  the players were celebrating Christmas all alone in a foreign land and we thought holding a dinner party for them was a decent thing to do."

Public relations manager Ruhana Abdullah  said the  players had given a bad first impression.

"I hope they can really play football because T-Team could not have hired them because of their good manners.

"Leaving without saying goodbye is low in my book and apart from coaching them football,  I hope Yunus Alif will coach them some manners too," she said.

Safee Sali wants to remain with Pelita Jaya despite threat of ban

Safee Sali has reiterated his desire to remain at Pelita Jaya FC despite the uncertainty of the Indonesian domestic league, which could be imposed sanctions by Fifa soon.

The national striker has been offered a three-year contract extension with negotiations ongoing.
He is keen to remain with Pelita although he did not rule out a transfer away from the club.
Safee's contract expires on Jan 31.

"I've received several offers but I would like to stay with Pelita as I am a star in Indonesia but it will all depend on the club's final offer," said Safee in Damansara yesterday.

Safee, however, issued a "come and get me" call to those interested in him.

"I am open to dealing with those interested in me," said the top scorer of last year's AFF Cup.

The All Indonesian FA (PSSI) received instructions last week from Fifa to bring all competitions  -- the Premier League (LPI) and the Super League (ISL) -- under its control. Fifa has given PSSI until March 20 to get its house in order or face sanctions.

"As a professional player, the state of Indonesian football worries me but I leave it to the concerned parties to find a solution.

"I have about five years left in my career and I want to make the most of it. My goal is to play in other top leagues," said the 27-year-old.

The player said he had received offers from Germany, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Thailand, India and Vietnam.

Safee  also has an impending trial with English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers.

Pelita have also offered him an attractive three-year contract, with a clause which states that if anything unfavourable occurs during his stay with them, he will be allowed to join either Australia's A-League side Brisbane Roar or Belgium's second division team RCS Vise.

All three clubs are owned by Bakrie Group.

"If I go elsewhere, of course, the package must be better than the one offered by Pelita.

"However, I would not want to join a new club and warm the bench. My desire is to see first-team action."

Safee, who scored seven goals last season,  was confident that PSSI would settle its internal matters before Fifa's deadline.

"As captain of Pelita, I would like to help the club achieve their targets in the ISL. My focus is on the club ....I do not want to think about anything else."

According to his manager Zakaria Rahim, Pelita and 17 other ISL clubs will not accept PSSI's invitation to join the IPL.

"The IPL has little quality and unqualified clubs are playing in it. The club wants the ISL to be reinstated as Indonesia's top league."

"We want an extraordinary meeting (EGM) to be called to resolve this issue as agreed upon in a recent meeting between 452 member clubs under PSSI," said Zakaria.

FIFA may ban Safee Sali if he continues to play in the banned Indonesian league

Malaysian striker Mohd Safee Sali risks being banned if he continues to play in the unsanctioned Indonesian Super League (ISL). And the FA of Malaysia (FAM) will not be able to do anything about it.

FAM general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad said yesterday they would have to comply with whatever decision taken by the world body, FIFA.

Last Friday, All-Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) president Djohar Arifin Husin had said that FIFA had banned the ISL and that the ban extended to all players, officials and referees involved in the league.

Safee, who plays for Pelita Jaya FC, faces an indefinite ban which could cost him his place in the national team.

“We will abide by FIFA’s ruling as they are the international governing body and their decision is final,” said Azzuddin.

“Safee will have to face the consequences if he continues to play in the ISL, and that could jeopardise his future. As a professional, I hope he knows what’s best for him.”

Safee moved to Pelita Jaya in February after helping Malaysia win the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time last year.

The former Selangor striker has become a big hit in Indonesia, scoring seven goals in 14 matches to help Pelita Jaya finish 12th in the 15-team league.

Safee admitted that he is worried but will leave it to the club management to handle the issue.
“My contract with Pelita Jaya ends on Jan 31 and I have yet to make any decision regarding my future,” Safee said yesterday.

“The problem is beyond the players and I have a responsibilty as the captain of the team. I will honour my contract and hope for the best. 

“I have received several offers to play in foreign leagues in Asia and Europe, but I’m leaving my options open until my contract ends. I really hope the problem between ISL and PSSI is resolved soon.” 

Olympic squad to include 5 teenagers for Singapore league campaign

The stint in the Singapore League (S-League), scheduled to start on Feb 9, will kick-start the national Under-23 football squad’s reboot.

The Harimau Muda A team have lost several players to M-League sides following the SEA Games success while others are now overage. This has opened up vacancies and national Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee has enlisted five 17-year-olds for the S-League campaign.

The five teenagers – Moha­mmad Syazwan Tajuddin, Muhammad Akmal Ishak, Mohd Azizan Nordin, Nur Areef Kamaruddin and Mohd Firdaus Muhammad – from Bukit Jalil Sports School will form the core of the youngsters in the squad.

Kim Swee, however, warned against comparing them to wonder-kid Muhamad Nazmi Faiz Mansor. 

Nazmi, who is also 17, has already won rave reviews for his maturity and eye for a goal.

“Don’t expect these boys to be as good as Nazmi. They are talented but need more time to develop,” said Kim Swee.

“I intend to give them extended playtime in the S-League to see how they progress. We are in a rebuilding process and these five will be the nucleus of the team for the future.”

Kim Swee, who initially planned to have a squad of 30 players for the S-League, said he might make do with 28 instead. 

“I had shortlisted two more players but they are with their own teams in the M-League,” said Kim Swee.

“It doesn’t matter if the players cannot join us in Singapore. I’ll be happy if they play regularly in the domestic league.”

The Under-23 squad are on a two-week break and will resume training at Wisma FAM on Jan 3. They are scheduled to play a friendly against the Saudi Arabian Under-23 side on Jan 31 before meeting Bahrain in the Asian Zone Olympic final round qualifier on Feb 5.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Safee Sali told to be calm over banning of Indonesian Super League

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek wants national striker Safee Sali who plays for Pelita Jaya FC in the Indonesian Super League (ISL) to remain calm and not make any hasty decisions that may hamper his playing career.

Ahmad Shabery said Safee need to allow the All-Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) to resolve their quandary following FIFA's decision to ban the Indonesia Super League (ISL).

"Right now, Safee need not be worried because it does not affect the ranking. The only concern is that if the ISL was banned, what will be the implication for him," he told Bernama when met here.

According to Indonesian news portal Republika, FIFA had issued a letter to All-Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) president Djohar Arifin Husin stating that it did not recognise the ISL.

The contents of the letter, signed by FIFA secretary-general Jarome Valcke and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general Datuk Alex Soosay, the ban also extends to all players, officials and referees involved in the ISL.

"A freeze has also been imposed on transfer of players from the ISL, effectively preventing them from playing in leagues or championships in countries which are FIFA affiliates.

"Players like Safee are also affected, they cannot play outside the ISL," the portal said.

Prior to this, Safee had said if Pelita Jaya was affected by the ban, he would try to ply his trade elsewhere and at the same time represent Malaysia's national squad.

FIFA, however, has given Indonesia until March 20 to sort out its football problems, failing which harsher action would be taken.

The ISL is the league for professional clubs in Indonesia but does not come under the jurisdiction of the PSSI.

Ahmad Shabery expressed confidence that PSSI would be able to resolve the matter since Indonesia's top players like Christian Gonzales, Bambang Pamungkas, Boaz Salossa and Firman Utina would also be affected by the ban.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Sabah coach thinks Sarawak well prepared for new season

Sarawak is an improving team and has what it takes to take on the challenges and demands of the Malaysia Super League (MSL).

According to Sabah’s head coach Justin Ganai after his team played in the two friendlies with Sarawak on Tuesday and Thursday, he saw strength in the ‘new’ state’s team.

“Sarawak looks more ready and prepared as a team compared to Sabah” he said commenting on Sarawak’s game play.

Justin was also feeling the pressure and a bit disappointed as his team failed to find the net from the two pre-season tour matches with Sarawak.

He said that Sabah had to be totally prepared if they want to be tough contenders in the MSL next season.

When asked about the feeling playing against a local and direct rival like Sarawak, he said that he did feel a bit of anxiety but other than that, any match would be as important and the same as any other matches.

Justin was also a former Sabah player who last played for the team in 1988.

Sabah and Sarawak draw in second friendly match

Sarawak drew 0-0 in a friendly match with Sabah at State Stadium last Thursday night.

This was the second match between the Borneo Derby after last Tuesday’s friendly, with Sarawak winning the 1-0.

The match on Thursday saw Sarawak hold much of the possession but failed to find the net due to some tidy defending by Sabah.

However, as a whole Sarawak played an improved game than in their first encounter and was disappointed that their hard work didn’t translate to any goals.

After the breather, ball possessions for both teams were even in all departments with the game being centered on the midfield for the most of the 45 minutes. In spite of Sarawak’s control of the game, the visiting team was granted a penalty during the injury time of the second half which Sabah’s Micheal Baird failed to convert, when he kicked ball over the bar.

Though the match ended in a draw, Sarawak will be the happier of the two teams as they won in their first encounter.

From the outcome of the friendlies, Sarawak managed to salvage their pride in the Borneo Derby.

Sabah and Sarawak are the two East Malaysian teams playing in the top-flight, Malaysia Super League, next season and have long been fierce rivals.

Negri Sembilan appeals to FAM over signing of Brazilian player

The Negri Sembilan Football Association (NSFA) have appealed to the FA of Malaysia (FAM) to “cut them some slack” over the registration of their foriegn player from Brazil.

Acknowledging the NSFA made some technical errors in signing up Marquen Nuquen Gocalves Ferreira , NSFA president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan urged FAM not to be “overly rigid” in the matter of hiring foreign players.

Mohamad said a contract had already been signed with the Brazilian and NSFA would incur financial losses if they were unable to utilise the player.

He added that the NSFA had sent FAM a letter on the appeal and were willing to pay a fine in order to use the services of Ferreira.

FAM, who have allowed M-League teams to import a maximum of two players for the 2012 season, had set Dec 8 as the deadline for registration of foreign players.

Ferreira, who had played in the J-League, was hired from a Brazilian Division Three side.

In Kuantan, FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said M-League teams should not treat hiring foreign players lightly.

He said the teams’ failure to register their foreign players because they did not meet FAM’s conditions should serve as a lesson to the them.

He added the FAM would not entertain appeals and teams who failed to register their foreign players this time around would have to wait for the next window in April.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Terengganu stadium to be inspected before AFC Cup

Officers of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will be in Terengganu to inspect facilities at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium (SSINS) next February before the AFC Cup matches kickoff.

Terengganu Football Association (PBSNT) vice-president Sheikh Tajudin Sheikh Yusoff said several areas in the stadium were being upgraded to ensure the  competition would proceed smoothly.

"There are no major problems, except the floodlight brightness  which I believe the Kuala Terengganu City Council (MBKT), as owner of the stadium, will be doing something to protect the image of the state," he told reporters here.

He said the facilities at SSINS, like the changing room and the meeting room, met the AFC requirements.

Meanwhile, Terengganu's chance of playing night matches in next year's Malaysian League appeared dim as the floodlight at SSINS is said to be below the required brightness of 800 lux.

 Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) assistant secretary Ahmad Fuad Daud said the readings at two of the nine spots in the stadium did not meet the 800 lux brightness.

 "However other facilities such as the tunnel, sound system, barrier-free areas meet the stipulated level," he told reporters here Friday.

Amri Yahyah and Surendren to lead Selangor attack

Amri Yahyah will once again lead Selangor's attack in the 2012 M-League season, which starts next month, along with R. Surendren in the absence of Congo import Lelo Mbele.

Selangor took a gamble by signing  Mbele, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur injured, but they are confident the striker will miss only a few matches into the season.

Amri, who scored 15 goals last season, is confident he can lead Selangor's attack for at least  the beginning of the season.

Skipper Amri, 30,  is determined to help his team win titles after  last season's failures.

"It is important that we get a good start. We were unlucky not to win titles last season and I hope it will be better this season," said the former international yesterday.

"Mbele's absence will be felt but we have enough strikers in the squad as replacements. If I am selected to play upfront, I will be ready to shoulder the responsibility.

"With or without Mbele, we must do our best and win trophies this season. We cannot play the blame game or make excuses if we fail. As captain, I want my teammates to give  100 percent throughout the season."

Amri has been doing a great job in pre-season matches, having scored three goals in as many matches. Selangor defeated MP Muar (5-0, 2-1) and Police (3-1) and played Johor in Pasir Gudang yesterday.

"We have quite a number of new players in the squad and all of them are responding well in training and friendlies. We are getting better and everyone is happy to play under new coach Irfan Bakti (Abu Salim)," added Amri.

The Selangor FA was heavily criticised last season for failing to sign on a quality striker and now there is a  question mark whether Mbele will be fit for the new season.

New signings Famirul Ashraf Sayuti and Wan Mohd Hoesne Wan Hussian are Selangor's other strikers. The team's other import is Lebanese defender Ramez Dayoub.

Meanwhile, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) has cleared the Paroi Stadium -- the home venue of Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan, for the new season.

FAM conducted its final inspection on Wednesday and found that the stadium lighting, set at 1,000 lux, adhered to  competition rules for night matches.

Terengganu stadium fails lighting inspection again

Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium has failed inspection again and its fate is now in the hands of the FA of Malaysia's (FAM) Local Tournament Committee.

Tournament director Ahmad Fuad Daud, who inspected the stadium on Thursday night, said the committee will decide on Thursday if Super League  matches for Terengganu and T-Team could be held in Kuala Terengganu at night.

"The stadium came short again as two out of nine locations on the pitch registered readings below the minimum 800 lux requirement.

"All other requirements were met but we need all nine spots on the field to have readings above 800 lux and the matter is now in the hands of the committee," he said.

"Since the league starts on Jan 10, the committee will decide on the kick-off time of the scheduled match in Kuala Terengganu," said the FAM assistant general secretary who was in Kota Baru, Kelantan, to inspect Sutan Mohamad (IV) Stadium yesterday.

Ahmad said the  other stadiums  which had failed  inspections will be reviewed again before the end of the month. 

Terengganu FA deputy president Shaikh Ahmad Tajuddin Shaikh Yusof said  the Kuala Terengganu City Council is trying to improve the lighting system at the stadium.

"I am confident that Super league matches will be played at night but it is a different story for the AFC Cup matches as the lux reading for international games cannot be less than 1,200 lux.

Coach Kim Swee targetting top five place for Young Tigers in Singapore League

Coach Ong Kim Swee has set a top five target for the Young Tigers squad in the S-League with a mixed team comprising just 11 players from the Sea Games gold medal side.

Despite naming a relatively inexperienced squad, Kim Swee is confident that the team would not let him down in the S-League.

"The FA of Malaysia has not set any targets for this team, but I want my players to finish in the top five or better in the league. We have lost nine regulars but the newcomers are capable," said Kim Swee.

"We had a successful year in our playing tours and the Sea Games and I want my boys to build from those to produce better football in Singapore."

He hopes  bringing a young team into the league will help them gain more experience and improve their football as he  aims to use the squad in the 2013 AFC Under-22 Championships qualifiers and the Myanmar Sea Games.

"Most of my players -- about 75 percent -- can play in the Under-22 qualifiers and making the main draw of the tournament is a priority."

Kim Swee is upbeat that the likes of Izzaq Faris Ramlan and Syahrul Azwari, who displayed an impressive show during the Sea Games, as well as defenders Mahalli Jasuli and Fadhli Shas along with the midfield duo of Irfan Fazail and Wan Zack Haikal, who have returned from Sloviakian club Zlate Moravce, will help the side establish themselves.

"I am confident my boys will display the good football that they are capable of playing. We want to entertain the fans," added Kim Swee.

THE SQUAD -- Mahali Jasuli, Affizie Faisal, V Kalaichelvan, Syahid Zaihon, Izzaq Faris Ramlan, Shahril Saari, Fadhli Shas, Wan Zack Haikal, Thamil Arasu, Irfan Fazail, Wan Zaharul Nizam, Izham Tarmizi, Ferris Danial, Ahmad Hazwan, Fandi Othman, D Saarvindran, Garry Steven Robbat, Amer Saidin, Syahrul Azwari, Farhan Abu Bakar, Nazirul Naim, Shahrul Saad, Nazmi Faiz, Syazwan Tajuddin, Akmal Ishak, Azizan Nordin, Nur Areef Kamaruddin, Firdaus Muhammad.

Safee Sali is affected as FIFA bans Indonesian Super League

Safee Sali, who plays for Indonesian professional outfit Pelita Jaya, is in a quandary following world governing body Fifa banning the Indonesia Super League (ISL).

Pelita Jaya play in the ISL.

According to Indonesian news portal Republika, Fifa had issued a letter to All-Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) president Djohar Arifin Husin stating that it did not recognise the ISL.

According to the  letter, signed by Fifa secretary-general Jarome Valcke and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general Datuk Alex Soosay, the ban also extends to all players, officials and referees involved in the ISL.

"A freeze has also been imposed on transfer of players from the ISL, effectively preventing them from playing in leagues or championships in countries which are Fifa affiliates. 

"Players like Safee are also affected, as they cannot play outside the ISL," the portal said.

Prior to this, Safee had said if Pelita Jaya were affected by the ban, he would try to ply his trade elsewhere and at the same time represent Malaysia's national squad.

Fifa, however, has given Indonesia until March 20 to sort out its football problems, failing which harsher action would be taken.

Malaysia move up to 148th place in FIFA rankings

Malaysia climbed se­­ven rungs in the FIFA world rankings to end the year in 148th position.

Malaysia, 155th last month, managed to improve by playing a number of international friendly matches.

However, the 148th position did not match the 138th spot they managed in March and nowhere near Malay­sia’s best ever ranking of 75th in 1993.

Friday, 23 December 2011

26 foreign players allowed to play in M-League next season

The Football  Association of Malaysia (FAM) has approved the registration of 26 foreign players who will feature among teams playing in the M-League next season.

According to a statement from the FAM, the competitions committee that met today had deliberated the application of 35 import players submitted by state and club teams competing in the Premier and Super League competitions.

The approval for the 26 players was given based on the terms and guidelines set by FIFA.

"The approval for 26 players included approval for four players whose International Transfer Certificate (ITC) has yet to be received," said the statement.

The application of seven players was not approved because their application did not meet the requirements while two applications were withdrawn.

Among the players who will feature in the Premier and Super League competition are Marlon James, Bruno Sebastian Martelotto for Armed Forces; Esseh Sodjine Sougan Adah (Johor), Danilo Rafael Dos Santos Vivaldo (Kedah), Mohamad Ghaddar, Dennis Agayare, Emmanuel Ayaah Okine (Kelantan) and Ramez Dayoub (Selangor).

The four players approved pending their ITC are Daniel Soares Neves (Kedah), Mbele Lelo (Selangor), Evans Chusilo (MP Muar) and Christian Contes (Perlis).

The seven applications rejected were Richard Offiong (Johor), Tito Fernando Da Silva Pinto, Tiago Lima Leal (Johor FC), Bianchi Parades Santiago (Felda United), Marquen Nuquen Goncalves (Negeri Sembilan), Sergey Ivanov (Pahang) and Helmi Loussaief (Selangor PKNS).

Applications for Tercio Nunes Machado (Terengganu) and Oladimeji Mathew Talabi from Betaria FC, a club from Negeri Sembilan, were withdrawn.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

PKNS FC given big budget for Super League campaign

PKNS FC have been allocated a whopping RM7 million budget by Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS) to spearhead its Super League campaign next year.

PKNS general manager Othman Omar who is also the patron of the club wants PKNS FC to use the ‘big’ allocation wisely in its quest for success.

Speaking to reporters after witnessing PKNS FC players signing their contracts of service for the new season, Othman also urged the team management to source for additional funds from other prospective sponsors.

“To become a renown club we cannot just depend on grants given by PKNS but rather work hard to source for funds from other sponsors to develop football, especially PKNS FC,” he said.

Othman said the success of PKNS FC to win the 2011 Premier League title and gain automatic promotion to the Super League would certainly open the eyes of prospective sponsors to come forward.

He also urged the team management to find ways to attract fans to the stadium by increasing their ticket sales through quality performances.

Sarawak giving incentives to buy tickets for Super League matches

Football Association of Sarawak (FAS) is giving incentives to encourage fans to purchase season tickets for the Super League 2012 home matches.

“We are encouraging fans to show and continue to support the team by purchasing season tickets. FAS hope to increase the number of season-ticket holders and have introduced incentives such as lucky draws on every match-days. The grand prize for the draw are two units of Perodua Viva,” said FAS secretary-general Abdullah Julaihi.

Season tickets are priced at RM150 per pass for Open Terrace and RM225 per pass for the Terraced section of the State Stadium. Corporate and VIP season passes are also available.

On the Crocs’ 1-0 triumph over neighbours Sabah on Tuesday, Abdullah praised the state players and said the boys had shown a lot of commitment and proved they were able to win tough matches.

“We have a good team made up of young players and had beefed up the squad with mature and experienced players ahead of their Super League assignments next year, because at Super League level the competition is fierce.

“Against Sabah, it was a difficult match but the fans kept us going. I am glad and thankful that Crocs’ fans have always come out to support the team,” explained Julaihi.

He added that having won promotion to the Super League, the Crocs started well in their pre-season friendlies, remaining unbeaten in their first five games.

“Sarawak play good attractive football, and it’s what the fans want to see – good, attacking football that eventually led them to promotion to the Super League. Judging by the match against Sabah, the Crocs have a well-balanced squad and showed good combination in attack and defensive manoeuvres.”

For now, the Crocs are concentrating solely on staying in the top half of the table in the 2012 season, he added.

Late goal enables Sarawak to beat Sabah in friendly match

Sarawak won the bragging rights over old enemy Sabah with a narrow victory in a friendly match last Tuesday at the State Stadium.

But the visitors have the chance to make amend tonight in their second encounter of the Borneo derby.

The evenly contested match on Tuesday was settled by a solitary goal scored by former Johor FC player Mohamad Rashid Aya in the 80th minute.

Besides scoring the winning goal Mohamad Rashid, who was making his debut for Sarawak, made a good impression with his overall contribution to the game.

Another player making his debut was Cameroonian Guy Bwele also put up a solid display to convince Football Association of Sarawak (FAS) that they had made the right decision in signing him.

The match was certainly no walk in the park for the Crocs as Sabah dominated play in the first half forcing the home team to defend desperately on many occasions.

The home team had goalkeeper Saiful Amar Sudar and their solid back four to thank for in keeping the game goalless at half time.

The half time pep talk by stand-in coach Mohd Farhan seemed to do the trick as Sarawak played much better in the second half as the players found more accuracy in their passes and brought the game more to the visitors.

Coach Robert Alberts could not be with the team due to some personal matters but he must have been pleased by his team’s resilience in the face of Sabah’s onslaught in the first half and their ability to nick a goal in the second half.

The visitors have the chance to make amend tonight as Sabah will again face-off with Sarawak in their second encounter of the Borneo derby.

Negeri Sembilan MB slams FAM for not informing stadium floodlights issue earlier

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) must inform the Negeri Sembilan Football Association in writing if the floodlights at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi did not meet the specifications and not just announce it in the newspapers.

Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan who is also the Negeri Sembilan FA President said he only came to know of the matter after reading the newspapers Wednesday.

"I didn't know.....but according to reports that I received, inspection was carried out two or three times at the stadium and everyone said it was okay. What is not up to the mark? If it did not meet the specification, they (FAM) should have told us a long time ago and not now when the season is about to kickoff," he told reporters here today.

Mohamad Hasan was commenting on newspapers reports today that the floodlights at the Kota Baharu, Kuala Terengganu and Paroi stadiums did not meet the specification set by the FAM.

Mohamad Hasan said the state FA should have been informed in writing and not release it to the newspapers.

"I as the president of the Negeri Sembilan FA was not aware of the matter....I only knew about it after reading the newspapers. Who is playing? The newspapers or the Negeri Sembilan team? he asked.

Newcomer PKNS FC targetting top six place in Super League

This season's Premier  League champion PKNS FC, a newcomer to the Super League, targets to be in the top six places in the competition which starts Jan 10.

As Premier League champion, the team qualified for next season's Super League. Its president, Norhisham Mohd Ghouth said the target was realistic.

He said this when introducing the team's players to the media including two imports from France, Micheal Joseph Nicoise and Helmi Loussaief here, today.

The team retained 13 existing players and recruited 12 new faces for next season's Malaysian League including Selangor striker Rudie Ramli.

Coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim said he would build team compatibility through two friendlies against Singapore's under 23 Lions XII and Sime Darby FC. The first match is Wednesday at the Petaling Jaya City Council Stadium (MBPJ) and the second match on Dec 31 at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium.

He said the team had, prior to this, played two friendly matches at the pre-season tour against Vietnam's Premier League, FC Saigon.

"We lost the first match 0-1. We won the second match 4-1 and it could be because they were over-confident while our team displayed a strong fighting spirit," he said.

The MBPJ stadium was retained as the main venue of the team for the Malaysia League competition's coming season.

Their first game would be against Johor FC in an away match on Jan 10.

Mohd Remezey Che Ros, Razi Effendi Suhit, Mohd Hafidz Romly, Fahrul Nizwan Abdul Nasir, Mohd Fadhil Hashim (Skipper), Mohd Zulharis Mohd Nor, Ahmad Azlan Zainal, Helmi Remeli, Farouk Hashim, Muhd Faizal Nasir, Mohd Fauzan Dzulkifli, P. Rajesh, Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham, Muhd Khairu Azrin Khazali, Mohd Norhafizzuan Jailani, Mohd Idris Ahmad, Azwan Abdul Malek, Mohd Fazli Baharudin, Ahmad Shahril Zakaria, Mohd Nazrin Syamsul Bahari, Helmi Loussaief, Mohd Khairul Akhyar Husain, Muhd Asyidi Dil Ashar Yusof, Rudie Ramli, Micheal Joseph Nicoise

Negri Sembilan and Terengganu unhappy with FAM over stadium lighting problems

Several stadiums have failed to meet the specification on flood lighting for the new M-League season. And the teams concerned may either have to play in the afternoon or look  for alternative venues.

With the season just a few weeks away, only five stadiums have  passed the minimum requirement, set by the FA of Malaysia (FAM),  to host matches at night.

The approved stadiums are the National Stadium (Bukit Jalil), Utama Stadium (Kangar), Darulaman Stadium (Alor Star), USM Stadium (Penang) and Temerloh Stadium, which all have a minimum illumination reading of 800 lux.

The State FAs of the "unapproved" stadiums have been given the ultimatum by FAM to make the required  adjustments to their  venues before the upcoming inspection.

The Negri Sembilan and Terengganu FAs, are, however, unhappy with FAM's inspectors, who they felt were unprofessional with their conduct.

Negri FA president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan told Bernama yesterday that FAM failed to notify his association in writing on the status of the Paroi Stadium.

"FAM did not inform us officially. We only learnt about it through the media," said Mohamad.
"According to reports that I received, inspection was carried out two or three times at the stadium and everyone said it was okay.

"If the stadium did not meet the specification, they (FAM) should have informed us earlier and not now when the season is about to start."

Terengganu and T-Team may also have to play their home matches in the afternoon now that the state government has refused to foot the bill for improved lighting at Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said it was not the state government's fault that the FAM technical committee found the stadium not bright enough for night matches when they came for inspection earlier this month.

Ahmad, when speaking in Gong Badak on Saturday, said just because Terengganu are playing in the AFC Cup this year, it does not mean that the state government will have to spend more money to improve the lighting system to meet international standards.

"The new lighting system was installed last year and the football people should have informed  us the international lighting standard for night matches back then.

"If they told us last year that we needed to have a reading of 3,000 lux, then we would have followed their advice but now, a year later, they say that our stadium is not bright enough for international matches," he said.

The new lighting system was installed last year at a cost of almost RM1 million when the stadium was found unfit for Super League night matches.

For the league night matches, a minimum illumination  of 800 lux is sufficient but for international games, a minimum  of 1,200 lux is required.

In the earlier inspection by the FAM technical committee, three out of nine locations on the pitch registered below 800 lux readings and a passing mark of 800 lux or better will have to be recorded at all nine locations when the inspection team come back on Wednesday.

The cost for a new, improved lighting system is estimated to be RM2.8 million.

Ahmad said in order to meet the international lighting standard, new towers will need to be erected and new cables will have to be installed.

"The stadium's lighting system is just one year old and we will look stupid if we were to replace it with a new one.

"If it means that night matches cannot be held at our stadium then so be it and we will play our matches in the afternoon," he said.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Olympic squad coach delighted over good form of strikers

Malaysian Olympic coach Ong Kim Swee reckons he will have too many strikers to choose from for next year’s assignments.

And the former international says that is just how he wants it.

In fact, the newcomers have  put the pressure on the regulars after the successes over the past year.

There are several on form strikers in contention and Kim Swee admits it will be hard selecting the best for tournaments.

The Malacca-born said: “I’ve got a lot of players. It will be tough for me to choose the best but it is better to have this problem than no players,” he said.

Among his options are Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Ahmad Fakri Saraani, A. Thamil Arasu, Syahrul Azwari and the injured Izzaq Faris Ramlan.

Ahmad Hazwan and Ahmad Fakri made headlines in the team’s recent tour in Australia, where both were impressive against top A-League sides.

An injury-prone Ahmad Hazwan, who missed last month’s Indonesia Sea Games, scored four goals for Kim Swee’s side from three friendly matches in Australia.

As for Ahmad Fakri, the 22-year-old made an impact in the team’s 4-1 win over A-League side Central Coast Mariners.

“They can improve because they are young and can get more experience by playing more important games.

“We have a good team and I believe we will have a good season ahead. But experience is really important on the pitch. You need experience. There is a good spirit with the young players and we’ve had good victories.

“We have something new and it is very interesting,” said Kim Swee, who helped the national Under-23 team retained their Sea Games title in Jakarta last month.

On the form of his strikers, Kim Swee said Ahmad Hazwan was the most impressive in Australia.

“He has the qualities to become a good striker as well as Ahmad Fakri and Thamil Arasu. However, they need to play regular high quality football to improve,” he added.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sabah and Sarawak set for explosive friendly match

The Sabah football team is set to troop into Stadium Negeri tonight with all guns blazing as the squad face their toughest test yet in their preparation for the Super League 2012 campaign when they face host neighbours Sarawak.

The coach Justin Ganai said his team are not taking the match lightly even though it was just a friendly, as he expected tonight’s ‘Borneo Derby’ as having all the ingredients of a fiery encounter.

“We lack competitive matches. The match against Sarawak is our first real test as we only played against local club sides in Sabah prior to coming here. Although we have won big in those matches, I rather face strong teams like Sarawak to really measure the strength of my boys,” he said yesterday.

The Sabah Super League team scored an incredible 30-goal during a string of friendly matches in Sabah prior to their arrival in Kuching.

It is been several years since Sarawak and Sabah were last in the same division and the most important thing in Justin’s mind tonight must be the tough opposition his team faces tonight, and the hot reception from the voracious home fans.

The Sabah coach added that he is a bit worried of the fact that his team lacks big-match exposure unlike Sarawak who has been on a successful Pre-season playing tour to Indonesia recently.

“I see the match tonight against Sarawak as an opportunity to really test my team’s ability and will set out the perfect set of combination to win. Although we have good and experienced players in the squad, they are not tested yet. In fact, I have no opportunities yet to see weaknesses in the Sabah team,” he informed.

He further added that Sarawak is a good and strong team which had had long preparation for the Super League 2012 campaign.

“Sarawak has a lot of good and experienced players that are capable of becoming match-winners. We are playing to win and will field the best first-11 to face Sarawak,” he added.

Kick-off is at 8.15pm at the State Stadium with tickets priced at RM5 and available at the venue.

Singapore to play Johor in pre-season friendly

Singapore's Lions XII will take on Johor in a friendly on Dec 24 as part of their preparation for the Malaysian League (M-League) which they will participate in next year after a 17-year absence.

Their inclusion in the M-League for the 2012-2015 period was agreed upon during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on July 12 this year at Wisma FAM.

Malaysia's Harimau Muda A, on the other hand, will be competing in the Singapore League (S-League) over the same period.

The Lions XII have been training at their main venue, the Jalan Besar Stadium, for the past two weeks under chief coach V. Sundramoorthy who played in the M-League in the 1990's.

"This will be a good test for the team after training for just two weeks," said Sundramoorthy as quoted by the Asean Football Federation (AFF) website,

The Lions XII, also known as Singapore's under-23 (U-23) squad, will be captained by their international Shahril Ishak, and the other players include  Hariss Harun (midfielder), Agu Casmir (striker) and Baihakki Khaizan (defender), as well as youngsters like Izwan Mahbub (goalkeeper), Shakir Hamzah (defender) and Khairul Nizam (striker).

Besides Johor, the squad will also take on newly promoted team to the Super League, Selangor PKNS, and the Malaysian Armed Forces team.