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NST Online: Sports


Raja pleads for calm

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 09:21 AM PST


National coach K. Rajagobal wants his players to be allowed to stay focused on the task at hand after fans besieged the players for autographs.

National coach K. Rajagobal wants his players to be allowed to stay focused on the task at hand after fans besieged the players for autographs.

WITH just two days to go before the AFF Suzuki Cup final, the national team will be under 'lockdown' as national coach K. Rajagobal pleaded with the fans to let the team train in peace.

Rajagobal wants to cut out the distractions that have come with the young Malaysian side's amazing run to the final with the first leg against Indonesia at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil looming on Sunday.

Boisterous fans have turned out in full force at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya the last two days, besieging players with autograph demands after the team's evening sessions.


While appreciative of the fans' support, Rajagobal requested that his players be allowed to stay focused on the task at hand and leave the celebrations for later.

"I understand everyone is excited that we have made the final after so long. We don't want to sound negative but sometimes we just have to say no," said Rajagobal in explaining his closed-door session from today.

"I told the players this will happen and I want them to fully concentrate on the match. It is something we need to do for the team."


The national team have also been boosted by the return to training of Amirulhadi Zainal from a knee injury although the winger may still have to concede his starting spot to Ashaari Samsuddin.

"Amirul looks okay, we still have two more days to go, so we will see. I tried out Ashaari (in the probable XI) today (yesterday), just to see how he coped with it.

"But if I'm not happy I can still change it as we have options in (S.) Kunanlan, Faizal Abu Bakar and Amirul," added Rajagobal, who confirmed that another winger, Khyril Muhymeen Zambri, is definitely out of the first leg with a knee problem.


Rajagobal dismissed reports in the Indonesian press about injuries to their key players, including Uruguayan-born striker Cristian Gonzales, preferring to focus on his own side.

"It's neither an advantage nor a disadvantage to us. I'm sure they have other options. All 22 of their players are capable of playing against us.

"I am just focused on how we will play and what we have to do on Sunday," said Rajagobal.

The coach expressed confidence that his team will be in winning form when they face Indonesia.

Wanting his players to stay relaxed amid all that great expectations, Rajagobal said: "I cannot put my players under unnecessary pressure.

"If I do, they may not be in the right frame of mind for the final.

"Pressure is everywhere now and as a coach, I need to help them handle it."

He said the team will concentrate on strengthening their tactical play the next two days.

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Cazares defends title

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 07:22 AM PST


Hugo Cazares retains his WBA super flyweight title.

Hugo Cazares retains his WBA super flyweight title.

TOKYO: Hugo Cazares of Mexico retained his WBA super flyweight title yesterday by beating Japan's Hiroyuki Hisataka in an unanimous decision.

Three judges scored it 116-112, 117-111 and 117-111, all in favour of Cazares, marking his third successful defence of the title he won in May.

Cazares consistenly kept heavy pressure on the sixth-ranked challenger, who fought bravely early on in the bout but lost steam towards the end.


The champion extended his record to 34 wins, including 24 knockouts, six losses and two draws.

Hisataka has won 19 times, including eight knockouts, and now has nine losses and one draw. -- AFP

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