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NST Online: Sports


Bonanza for AFF Cup heroes

Posted: 13 Feb 2011 08:40 AM PST

2011/02/13
By Ajitpal Singh


FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah with  players and officials of the national team at  Wisma FAM yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah with players and officials of the national team at Wisma FAM yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

THE AFF Suzuki Cup-winning team received a whopping RM1.24 million reward from the FA of Malaysia (FAM) yesterday.

The 22-member squad, together with national coach K. Rajagobal, received RM50,000 each while nine support staff will each get RM10,000 from FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah.

The national players, however, upon receiving their rewards, were reminded by Sultan Ahmad to use their AFF Suzuki Cup success as a stepping stone for greater achievements.


"I am the happiest man as far as football is concerned. We are the best team in this region but we need to build upon it to attain greater heights," Sultan Ahmad told reporters at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

"We are now in a new era of local football. But all of us need to work hand-in-hand in order to succeed. The team must commit and dedicate themselves, like they did in the AFF Cup, from now.

"And to achieve that, our players must also play regular friendly matches to maintain their momentum for priority competitions."


According to Sultan Ahmad, the federal government has promised to financially assist the national team in their preparation for major tournaments.

"We are thinking of sending the team abroad for at least once a month for friendlies in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East. Our team will definitely improve playing against tougher opponents like Japan and South Korea.

"However, our players need to commit themselves to the game and be careful about how they conduct themselves as they carry the nation's hopes in competitions," said Sultan Ahmad.


He also wants the Young Tigers 'A' team, under coach Ong Kim Swee, to make an impact on the 2012 Olympic Asian Zone Qualifiers.

"I want the team to go for it. It is not an impossible dream to qualify for the Olympics as we have done it before," said the former Asian Football Confederation president.

The Olympic squad open their campaign against Pakistan in the two-leg Qualifiers. The first leg is on Feb 23 at the Shah Alam Stadium and the return leg in Lahore on March 9.

On whether Rajagobal or Kim Swee will coach the Under-23 team bound for the Indonesia Sea Games, Sultan Ahmad said it will be decided next week.

"The preparation for the Sea Games is continuous as those eligible are with either the national team or the Olympic squad."

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SA skipper blasts Chennai wicket

Posted: 13 Feb 2011 07:18 AM PST

CHENNAI (India): South African skipper Graeme Smith has criticised the wicket prepared for their World Cup warm-up game against Zimbabwe and called for better tracks during the tournament.

The pitch caused worries to Smith despite his team cantering to an eight-wicket win in the day-night game at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

"I don't think it was a great wicket," Smith said afterwards. "It probably suited them (spinners). The wicket probably helped them a little bit being, I think, maybe a bit under-prepared."


South Africa's frontline spinners Imran Tahir (3-35), Robin Petersen (2-21) and Johan Botha (1-18) benefited as Zimbabwe were bowled out for a paltry 152.

Smith called for better tracks once the actual action started in the tournament. South Africa are set to play England in Chennai on March 6.

"The wicket was pretty slow and dead," he said. "I hope the wickets are better prepared for the World Cup proper as coming to those games the wickets will get a lot more attention."


Smith's worries may stem from an earlier experience in India during a crucial test at Kanpur where his side were bowled out for 121 in their second innings, handing India a series-levelling victory.

South Africa open their World Cup campaign with a game against West Indies on Feb 24 at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi.

The World Cup, being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, begins on Saturday in Dhaka.


l NAGPUR: New Zealand posted a 32-run win after surviving a scare from a feisty Ireland in their high-scoring World Cup warm-up match on Saturday.

Martin Guptill struck a fine 130 off 134 balls as New Zealand racked up 311-6 in the day-night game at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium before bowling out Ireland for 279 off 48.2 overs.

Ireland enjoyed a flying start to their chase, with captain and opening batsman William Porterfield hammering a 74-ball 72 containing eight fours and a six.

Left-hander Ed Joyce hit 41 off 53 balls to keep Ireland in the hunt after Porterfield's dismissal in the 23rd over but the total proved too much for his team in the end.

Joyce had switched allegiance to England in 2006 and was part of their World Cup squad in the Caribbean a year later but is now back with his native Ireland.

Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori picked four wickets for 42 runs off his 10 overs and fast bowler Kyle Mills chipped in with 3-52.

Put in to bat, New Zealand lost attacking opener Brendon McCullum (one) cheaply to seamer Boyd Rankin, but Guptill ensured a huge total with his attacking knock, containing 12 fours and three sixes.

Guptill, set to play in his first World Cup, found strong support from the middle-order comprising Jesse Ryder (48), Ross Taylor (33) and James Franklin (49).

Ireland bowlers leaked 61 runs off the last five overs with Scott Styris hitting 29 runs off just 15 balls with the help of three sixes and one four.

New Zealand, placed in Group A, open their World Cup campaign with a match against Kenya in Chennai on Sunday, and Ireland take on Bangladesh in Dhaka on Feb 25.

The World Cup, being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, begins on Saturday in Dhaka. -- AFP

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