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NST Online: Sports


Football: Rajagobal has some unfinished business

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 04:05 PM PST

2011/01/10
Reports by Ajitpal Singh
ajitpalsingh@nst.com.my


Amirulhadi Zainal (left) and Safee Sali sign autographs for a fan at the Nike Malaysia Insider Access Session with the national team at Bandar Utama yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

Amirulhadi Zainal (left) and Safee Sali sign autographs for a fan at the Nike Malaysia Insider Access Session with the national team at Bandar Utama yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

K. RAJAGOBAL may have achieved what no national coach before him has managed in recent times but the charismatic coach is not done with his mission yet.

The former national player has the knack of bringing out the best from his players and proved this by guiding his team to victory in the 2009 Laos Sea Games and last month's Suzuki Cup.

Rajagobal has achieved much despite being the national coach for only close to two years. Now, his mission is to mould a team to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup, a tournament which Malaysia have not featured in for a long time.


In preparing a strong team for the 2015 mission, Rajagobal wants the national team to play at least one 'A' international match on a monthly basis.

"We need to keep the momentum going and the best way is to play as many 'A' internationals as possible. It will help our players maintain their quality for priority assignments," said Rajagobal at the Nike Malaysia Insider Access Session with the national team at Bandar Utama yesterday.

"The senior team will start their programme next month where they will also play an international friendly. Other international matches will be arranged accordingly."


Among the important assignments this year for the senior team are the Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers (June 29-July 3) and the friendly against Chelsea (July 21).

Rajagobal could also be involved in preparing the national Under-23 side, under coach Ong Kim Swee, for the Indonesia Sea Games in November. The FA of Malaysia (FAM) will make a decision on his involvement soon.

The coach thanked the fans and media for their support during the Suzuki Cup.


"The fans were behind us all the way even when we were down. I hope the fans will continue to support the team in future tournaments," added Rajagobal.

In yesterday's Nike event, hundreds of fans greeted Rajagobal and members of the Suzuki Cup winning team.

Among the players who attended the event were captain Safiq Rahim, Safee Sali, Amirulhadi Zainal, S. Kunanlan and Muslim Ahmad. Fans also had their Malaysia memorabilia autographed by these stars

As part of the session, Nike hosted 10 young players, all former participants of its grassroots football programme, to play a friendly six-a-side match.

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Basketball / ABL: Fire-breathing Dragons reach playoffs

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 04:03 PM PST

WESTPORT'S Kuala Lumpur Dragons reached the Asean Basketball League (ABL) playoffs for the second consecutive season after beating defending champions Philippine Patriots 92-74 in Manila yesterday.

New signing Justin Leith again led his side with 29 points in only his second start for the Dragons, who pulled level with the Patriots (8-6) for second place in the standings with one game each remaining.


After blowing comfortable leads in Wednesday's agonising defeat to Singapore Slingers, there were no hiccups this time as the Dragons overturned a 49-42 half-time Patriot lead for their first ever win at the Ynares Sports Arena in the ABL.


Nakiea Miller had 18 points and 10 rebounds while Rudy Lingganay came up big in the second half to finish with 16 points and six assists.

Ernesto Billiones led the home team with 23 points but the Patriots paid the price for a poor third quarter when they were outscored 31-14.


On Saturday, Dragons travel to Bandar Sri Begawan to play tabledwellers Brunei Barracudas (3- 11) while the Patriots go to Jakarta to take on Satria Muda BritAma, who are fighting for a place in the playoffs.


RESULTS: Philippine Patriots 74 KL Dragons 92, Singapore Slingers 102 Brunei Barracudas 61, Satria Muda BritAma 91 Thailand Slammers 68.

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