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NST Online: Sports


Football: Safiq: We are confident

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 05:19 PM PDT

2011/03/26
By Ajitpal Singh
ajitpalsingh@nst.com.my


National coach K Rajagobal    giving instructions to a player during training at Wisma FAM on Monday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

National coach K Rajagobal giving instructions to a player during training at Wisma FAM on Monday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

NATIONAL captain Safiq Rahim believes his side's recent displays in international matches have proved they can make an impact in the 2014 World Cup Asian Zone Qualifying round.

Safiq has faith in his teammates and said coach K. Rajagobal could do the job.

"We have a lot of fantastic players in the team and a great coach. Everyone in the team is raring to start their World Cup Qualifying campaign.


"Our victory in the AFF Cup has given us the self-belief and confidence for the qualifiers," said Safiq after the national team training session at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Thursday.

"There is a lot of hype about our success in the AFF Cup and it is important that we remain focused on our next mission. We should build upon that success for bigger tournaments."

Malaysia will start their 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign as the 28th ranked nation in Asia. The team, by virtue of being the lowest 16 ranked teams in the continent, will begin their challenge in the first round of qualifiers.


Afghanistan, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Timor Leste, Macau, Taiwan, Myanmar, the Philippines and Laos are the other lowest ranked teams in Asia.

The draw for this first round takes place on March 30 at the Asian Football Confederation headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. The home-and-away first round matches are on June 29 and July 3.

Malaysia are expected to justify their rankings as the highest ranked team in the first round.


The optimism and enthusiasm surrounding the national team are at an all time high after their AFF Cup success but Safiq warned that his teammates must not get overconfident in the World Cup Qualifiers.

"Let's not get overconfident. The World Cup Qualifiers are not a different ball game. We are not the only ones with dreams as other teams also want to make an impact in the qualifiers.

"It is important, however, we get past the first round. If we can do that then it is great progress for the team. Of course, the main target is to progress as far as possible in the qualifiers," said the midfielder.

Safiq said the team must now concentrate on maintaining their consistency and game plan ahead of the qualifiers.

"We must make use of all our friendly matches to maintain our rhythm. Every match from now until the qualifiers is important to form our strategies," he added.

The national team will play their second friendly match of the year against Singapore League side, Etoile FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium today.

Etoile, who are the S-league defending champions, are a French club.

Except for goalkeeper Farizal Marlias, who is down with an eye infection, the other 23 players left for Singapore yesterday.

The core of the team comprise mostly players from the victorious AFF Cup side. Rajagobal is using the friendly match to gauge his players before he decides on his team for the World Cup Qualifiers.

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Hockey: Bollywood act for UniKL

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 05:16 PM PDT

2011/03/26
By Jugjet Singh
jugjetsingh@nst.com.my


PJCC’s Ibnu Fatta Illah (in black) goes past three BJSS defenders in their Division 1 match at the Ministry of Education pitch yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

PJCC's Ibnu Fatta Illah (in black) goes past three BJSS defenders in their Division 1 match at the Ministry of Education pitch yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

FAVOURITES UniKL acted to a Bollywood movie script when they took a punch before beating a gritty Ipoh Juniors 3-2 in the curtain raiser of the MHF-NSC-Milo Junior Hockey League at the Azlan Shah Stadium yesterday.

Virtually parading their Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) side, UniKL were shocked in the ninth minute when Rasyid Hazar scored off a penalty corner attempt..

However, the early setback was overcame with efforts from Zulhairi Hashim (19th, 31st) and Nor Aqmal Ghaffer (43rd). The other Ipoh goal was scored by Azrul Fazrin in the 62nd minute.


"We expected Ipoh to defend in the early stages, but they shocked my players by playing an attacking game and scoring the first goal instead.

"I salute their grit, and the match turned difficult after that as my players struggled to settle down, but the end result was in favour of us," said UniKL manager Amir Azhar.

Bukit Jalil Sports School, whose players also just completed the MHL fixtures, were a disappointing lot when they let in a goal, before edging Petaling Jaya City Council 2-1 at the Ministry of Education pitch.


PJCC took the lead through Syamil Zulkifli off a ninth minute penalty corner, but BJSS sealed the three points with goals from Faridzul Afiq (12th) and Haziq Samsul (20th).

"I am shocked with the level of play today (yesterday) as we missed many sitters and were on the receiving end for no reason.

"We had practised many set-pieces but my players just failed to execute them, so instead of winning comfortably, we started our campaign on a shaky note," said BJSS coach S. Prakash whose players will meet Ipoh Juniors tomorrow.


In Division Two, Old La Sallians Association of Klang (Olak-PKT) also took the lead via Hakim Azarha's field attempt in the 27th minute, but shared points on a 1-1 score when Luqman Hakim scored for Padang Midin in the 43rd minute.

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