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NST Online: Sports


Football / AFF Suzuki Cup: On the brink of history

Posted: 17 Dec 2010 04:40 PM PST

2010/12/18
By Devinder Singh
devinder@nst.com.my


Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal (centre) and his boys will have a tough task against Vietnam in their AFF Suzuki Cup second leg match in Vietnam.

Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal (centre) and his boys will have a tough task against Vietnam in their AFF Suzuki Cup second leg match in Vietnam.

IT has been 14 years since Malaysia last appeared in the final of the AFF tournament and today K. Rajagobal's young guns are a mere 90 minutes away from rewriting history in Hanoi.

Never mind that Vietnam's coach Henrique Calisto went on the offensive yesterday when he said Malaysia's first leg win was earned through unfair means and hope to teach the national side a lesson today.

Calisto blamed the 50,000 Malaysian fans who turned out in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday for distracting his team by aiming laser pointers at the Vietnam players, although the claim remains unsubstantiated.


The Portuguese did not mention the laser pointers in the post-match press conference on Wednesday but instead chose yesterday's meeting in Hanoi to make his accusation besides putting pressure on the match officials to favour the home team.

"Malaysia won (on Wednesday) without fair play. They won because of laser in my players' eyes. The referee too must play an important role and not let what happened in Malaysia happen again," said Calisto, who on Wednesday faulted China's Sun Baojie for favouring Malaysia in the first leg.

Calisto's comments may have been prompted by pressure he is facing to save his job should the defending champions be eliminated at the semi-final stage.


If anything, Calisto's blase accusations should only serve to fire up a young Malaysian side set to write themselves into the history books with a first final appearance since 1996.

Malaysia's last achievement at senior level in Southeast Asia remains the 1989 Sea Games gold medal won in Kuala Lumpur at the famed Merdeka Stadium.

Discounting last year's Sea Games triumph in Vientiane, which was an Under-23 tournament, and Merdeka Tournament titles in 1993 and 2007 against mediocre opposition, it has been 21 years since success-starved Malaysian fans have had a real reason to celebrate.


While not wanting to look any further than the semi-final second leg at the My Dinh Stadium, where Malaysia will defend a 2-0 first leg lead, Rajagobal briefly entertained thoughts of making the final again for the first time since 1996.

"Now that we are here, we are only one step away from the final. I know I said before 2012 was our target but we have an opportunity to make it happen now.

"We won't have a better chance and we want to push our way through," said Rajagobal at the pre-match press conference yesterday.

Safee Sali, Malaysia's two-goal hero on Wednesday, will be looking to add to his tally along with strike partner Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.

The only change is likely to be at right-back where Sabre Mat Abu should start in place of the erratic Mahalli Jasuli.

"The players need to believe in themselves. We have a two-goal cushion and we have to be at our best," added Rajagobal.

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Hockey: Cracking start for TNB

Posted: 17 Dec 2010 04:37 PM PST

2010/12/18
By Ajitpal Singh
ajitpalsingh@nst.com.my


Tenaga Nasional Berhad players celebrate after winning the Malaysian Hockey League Charity Shield match against KLHC at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

Tenaga Nasional Berhad players celebrate after winning the Malaysian Hockey League Charity Shield match against KLHC at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

TENAGA Nasional Berhad (TNB) retained their Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) Charity Shield title by defeating Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) 2-0 at the Tun Razak Stadium in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

It was a scrappy match as the heavy downpour since late afternoon made it difficult for both teams to produce a high quality performance on the soggy pitch.

TNB coach Nor Saiful Zaini hopes the victory would spur his players to regain the MHL title.


"It was a difficult match due to the rain but we won because my players kept their focus on their game," said Nor Saiful at the Tun Razak Stadium in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"Although, we won today (yesterday), I am not too happy with my players' performance. But I am confident they will do better after a few matches."

TNB earned their first penalty corner of the match after 15 minutes but Amin Rahim's powerful trademark drag flick was brilliantly padded away by KLHC goalkeeper Kairulnizam Ibrahim.


Five minutes later, KLHC midfielder Shahrun Nabil Abdullah managed to dribble past several TNB defenders inside the semi-circle but his attempt was deflected off the stick of Amin.

KLHC, the last year's MHL champions, earned a penalty corner in the 30th minute but the attempt from Razie Abd Rahim sailed wide.

A foul in the semi-circle earned TNB their second penalty corner and Amin, this time, made no mistake by sounding the board with a low flick two minutes before halftime.


In the opening minutes of the second half, KLHC came charging into their opponents' half but were let down by poor passing.

In the 40th minute, KLHC forced a penalty corner but Razie again failed to convert by flicking the ball wide.

TNB forwards, led by Faizal Saari, were creating a lot of space for themselves in their opponents' half but couldn't find the opening.

However, they earned back-to-back penalty corners in the 49th minute but Amin failed to make it count.

KLHC pressed hard and had a couple of good chances to level proceedings but forwards Ismail Abu and Azlan Misron failed to capitalise on them..

In the 64th minute, KLHC's attempt from a penalty corner through Baljit Singh failed to beat goalkeeper S. Kumar.

TNB increased their lead through Faiz Helmi Jali, who latched onto a pass from Faizal, before sounding board past goalkeeper Khairulnizam in the 69th minute.

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