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NST Online: Sports


Football: Azraai returns with Negri

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 05:23 PM PDT

2011/03/22
Ajitpal Singh
ajitpalsingh@nst.com.my


Azraai Khor Abdullah

Azraai Khor Abdullah

AZRAAI Khor Abdullah is back to haunt M-League teams again.

After dominating the league with Kedah a few seasons ago, Azraai, after his short tenure with the FA of Malaysia, makes his much anticipated return with Negri Sembilan when the Super League resumes on April 1.

The Negri FA announced yesterday the appointment of the former national Under-21 coach as its new chief coach on a two-year contract.


Azraai succeeds Wan Jamak Wan Hasan, who resigned on March 17 after a spate of poor results in this season's M-League.

The 59-year-old's arrival in Seremban should trigger a new beginning for Negri, who are hoping to bounce back when the league resumes.

"I am proud and honoured to be the coach of Negri. It's an exciting challenge and I am ready to do my best," said Azraai.


"Negri are a fantastic team that are well respected in the league and have great fans. I'm looking forward to getting to work with my players and preparing them for competition."

Azraai is regarded by many as one of the most successful coaches in the country.

The Alor Star-born had early stints with the Kedah President Cup side before joining TNB Kelantan for a season.


In 2004, Azraai accepted an offer to coach the Kedah team where he enjoyed his best years, winning back-to-back trebles (Malaysia Cup, Super League and FA Cup titles) in 2007 and 2008 before signing on with FAM as the national under-21 chief coach, a year later.

But it was an unhappy experience for Azraai with FAM as he was removed as their Under-21 coach last July following an internal squabbling upon the return of his team from their Slovakia stint. He was only released from his contract, with compensation, on March 9.

"It is good to be back after eight months. And to get an offer from a team almost immediately after I got my release from FAM is good for me," said Azraai.

"My job with Negri starts immediately. I will take my first look at the team tomorrow (today). I have no time to relax as I have less than two weeks to shape them up before the league resumes."

Negri are ninth in the 14-team Super League with nine points from seven matches. They have scored only six goals and conceded nine.

But if Azraai can weave his magic once again, Negri will definitely bounce back. His first match in charge of Negri will be against Terengganu at home on April 2.

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Football: Raja ropes in Azidan, Rizal

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 05:18 PM PDT

2011/03/22
Ajitpal Singh
ajitpalsingh@nst.com.my


Azidan (left) hopes to impress in his first  senior call-up.

Azidan (left) hopes to impress in his first senior call-up.

MIDFIELDER Azidan Sarudin and defender Rizal Fahmi Abdul Rosid were the two new faces who reported for the national squad's second phase of training at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

Azidan, who plays for Selangor and Rizal Fahmi, a Kelantan recruit, are both determined to impress in their first ever senior call-up. Both are hoping to be shortlisted for the March 26 friendly against Singapore League's French club side Etoile FC.

Kedah striker Baddrol Bakhtiar also received his first national team call-up since suffering an injury before the Guangzhou Asian Games.


National coach K. Rajagobal, however, did not include former Selangor striker Safee Sali, Negri Sembilan's G. Mahathevan and Young Tiger Faizal Muhamad, who all featured in last month's friendly against Hong Kong, in his 24-man squad.

Rajagobal hopes to gauge his players, especially the new ones, in the friendly against Etoile, as part of their preparation for the 2014 World Cup Asian Zone first round qualifiers.

The Asian Football Federation will conduct the Qualifying draw on March 30.


The national team are full of confidence after their victory in the AFF Championships in December where they defeated Indonesia 4-2 on aggregate in the two-leg final. They hope to make it at least to the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers.

"Of course we need to start preparing early for the World Cup Qualifiers as it will be a tough event. Currently, I have a large pool of quality players with the majority from the AFF Cup winning squad," said Rajagobal.

The squad: Amar Rohidan, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Mohd Azmi Muslim, Mohd Sabre Mat Abu (Ked), Azidan Sarudin, Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal, Asraruddin Putra, Safiq Rahim (Sel), Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Aidil Zafuan Abd Razak, Farizal Marlias, S. Kunalan (NS), Ashaari Samsudin, Sharbinee Allawee (Ter), S. Chanturu Suppiah, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Rizal Fahmi Abdul Rosid, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kel), K.Gurusamy, Izzaq Faris Ramlan, Mahalli Jasuli, Muslim Ahmad, Mohd Fadhli Mohd Shas (Young Tigers), Shahrizal Mohd Saad (Johor FC).

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