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NST Online: Sports


Football / AFF Suzuki Cup: Raja cool as a cucumber

Posted: 27 Dec 2010 04:54 PM PST

2010/12/28
Reports by Devinder Singh in Jakarta
devinder@nst.com.my


National coach K. Rajagobal congratulates Safee Sali after he scores against Indonesia in the AFF Suzuki Cup first leg final in Bukit Jalil on Sunday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

National coach K. Rajagobal congratulates Safee Sali after he scores against Indonesia in the AFF Suzuki Cup first leg final in Bukit Jalil on Sunday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

JUST as his astute tactics have led to Malaysia on the verge of winning the AFF Suzuki Cup, coach K. Rajagobal expertly fended off an Indonesian inquisition yesterday.

Indonesian reporters had gathered at the team's hotel in Jakarta, hoping to get a provocative soundbite from Rajagobal.

But they were left with nothing more than a cryptic reply from the only local coach in the competition.


Their intention was clear -- to fire the despondent Indonesian fans into a frenzy against a common enemy.

But Rajagobal did not take the bait and instead expressed hope that tomorrow's final second leg will pass without incident.

The first leg had to be stopped for five minutes early in the second half after Indonesia goalkeeper Markus Rihihina instigated a near-walkout when he claimed a laser beam was directed at him.


"We respect the Indonesian team as they are a good side. Anything can happen in a final, so I will have to think about how to approach it.

"But mostly, we hope it will be a good game for the fans to enjoy.

"We have come here to put on our best performance and hope the fans will appreciate it," said Rajagobal just before his side began a light workout by the hotel pool.


When asked if Malaysia will employ a "park the bus" tactic to defend the 3-0 lead from Sunday's first leg, Rajagobal dismissed the notion.

"No team can defend for 90 minutes. We will play how I tell the players to play although I first have to see what is the condition of the players," added Rajagobal, who led the national Under-23 team to the Sea Games gold last year.

The last part of his statement referred to the replacements he needs to consider for suspended duo, Amirulhadi Zainal and Mahalli Jasuli.

Ashaari Samsuddin, who scored the second goal on Sunday, and Sabre Mat Abu look to be the likely replacements at right wing and right-back respectively.

Winger Khyril Muhymeen Zambri has not recovered sufficiently from a knee injury and will probably not feature.

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Football / AFF Suzuki Cup: Mahalli rues suspension

Posted: 27 Dec 2010 04:52 PM PST


Mahalli Jasuli (left) and Muslim Ahmad challenge Indonesia’s Cristian Gonzales in Malaysia’s 3-0 first leg win on Sunday.

Mahalli Jasuli (left) and Muslim Ahmad challenge Indonesia's Cristian Gonzales in Malaysia's 3-0 first leg win on Sunday.

MAHALLI Jasuli is devastated at missing what could be a historic moment in Malaysian football tomorrow.

The 21-year-old right-back is out of the second leg final after picking up a late booking (his second yellow card of the tournament) in Malaysia's 3-0 first leg win over Indonesia in Bukit Jalil on Sunday.

He earned a one-game ban along with winger Amirulhadi Zainal.


"I am so disappointed that I have to miss this match through suspension," said Young Tigers defender Mahalli on arrival at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport yesterday.

"It was late in the match and Indonesia were given a free-kick. I picked up the ball to let my teammates get organised but the referee thought I was time-wasting and booked me.

"I had badly wanted to play on Wednesday (tomorrow) but now I can only cheer the team on from the stands."


Sunday saw the best of Mahalli when he went toe-to-toe with speedy Indonesian winger Oktovianus Maniani, who was rendered ineffective after earning an early booking for elbowing Mahalli in the face. Oktovianus will also miss the second leg.

Mahalli was also pushing forward more often than he had done in the past and it was his cross which picked out Safee Sali for Malaysia's third goal.

"I thought that was my best game so far. I was dropped to the bench for the last game (against Vietnam) and I did not think I would be picked for the final.


"But I'm happy I got the chance to play against Indonesia although I know I have to work harder to improve," said Mahalli, whose performance went some way to make up for his shaky display in the opening 5-1 defeat to Indonesia on Dec 1.

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