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NST Online: Sports

Young Tigers A in confident mood

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 09:29 AM PST

By Ajitpal Singh

 Khairul Fahmi Che Mat of Kelantan has been named for the Pre-Olympic squad.  Pix : Osman Adnan  — Picture by OSMAN ADNAN

Khairul Fahmi Che Mat of Kelantan has been named for the Pre-Olympic squad. Pix : Osman Adnan — Picture by OSMAN ADNAN

BACKED by experience from Slovakia and strengthened by six players from the team that won the recent AFF Cup, Young Tigers 'A' are expected to make a menacing presence in their Super League debut this season.

Defenders Mohd Faizal Muhammad, Muslim Ahmad, Mahalli Jasuli, Mohd Fadhli Shah and midfielder K. Gurusamy and striker Izzaq Faris Ramlan are all bristling with confidence after the national team's success in the Suzuki Cup.

They will form the core of the 30-player squad.

Besides the six, several members of the squad were also in the national senior training squad throughout last year under coach K. Rajagobal.

The Tigers were also in Slovakia for a series of matches with the league's second tier teams and also played friendlies with clubs from Hungary and Austria.

The highly rated team are being groomed for two important tournaments this year - the Olympic Qualifiers next month and Indonesia Sea Games in November.

Coach Ong Kim Swee is optimistic that his boys will produce their best football to finish at least fifth in the Super League.

"My players have the experience and quality to match the big clubs in Malaysian football.

"Selangor, Negri Sembilan, T-Team, Felda United and Kelantan are all favourites but I believe my boys can give them a tough time," said Kim Swee, who guided the Tigers to the 2009 Premier League title at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

"There is also healthy competition among my players. All of them want to get into the first team as they know it would brighten their chances of being named for the Olympic Qualifiers."

"The policy of exposing youngsters to senior level football has also made my boys more determined as all of them want to play for Rajagobal one day."

He said the six AFF Cup winning players will also help in raising the confidence and self-belief in the team.

"These six will play an important role in the team. The others will look up to them as mentors. They will also put fear into other teams in the Super League," said Kim Swee.

The Tigers will open their Super League campaign against last year's FA Cup runners-up Kedah.

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) has yet to finalise the schedule for the coming season except for the Charity Shield tie between Selangor and Kelantan, which is set for Jan 29 at Shah Alam Stadium.

Kim Swee's first big mission of the year will be the two-leg Under-22 Olympic Qualifying first round match against Pakistan - at home on Feb 23 and away on March 9.

"The stint in Slovakia taught the boys to play high intensity football. They will also have to maintain this in the Super League to ensure they are fully ready for the Olympic Qualifiers.

"My boys have the material to go far in the Olympic Qualifiers. It is a matter of how much they want it. It is in their hands.

"The core members of the Olympic squad will be from the Tigers. Others in the Olympic training squad are goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan) and forwards Faizal Abu Bakar (Kedah), Ahmad Shakir Ali (Perak) and Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Perak)," he added.

The Tigers have also lined up several friendly matches ahead of their Super League season including a match against Qatar's Olympic side in Doha on Jan 20.

The Pre-Olympic squad

* Players in Harimau Muda A for 2011 Super League

Goalkeeper: Mohd Zamir Selamat, K. Sasikumar, Mohd Syamin Othman, Mohd Izham Tarmizi Roslan.

Defenders: Mahali Jasuli, Mohd Muslim Ahmad, Mohd Affize Faizal, Mohd Faizal Mohd, Mohd Nazri Ahmad, Mohd Bashahrul Abu Bakar, Mohd Fadhli Shas, Mohd Amer Saidin, Mohd Fandi Othman, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim.

Midfielders: Abdul Shukor Jusoh, K. Gurusamy, Mohd Rafiuddin Roddin, K. Ravindran, V. Kavi Chelvan, S. Sivanesan, Mohd Syahid Saidon, Mohd Irfan Fazail, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Wan Zaharul Nizam, Haziq Zikri Elias, Gary Steven Robbat.

Forwards: Izzaq Faris Ramlan, A. Thamil Arasu, Mohd Ferris Danial, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim.

* Players from state teams

Goalkeeper: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kel).

Forwards: Faizal Abu Bakar (Ked), Ahmad Shakir Ali (Per), Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Per).

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Marathon queues in Bangladesh for tickets

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 08:42 AM PST

DHAKA: Armed police in Bangladesh on Monday monitored long queues of frustrated cricket fans who have spent two days sleeping in the cold waiting to buy World Cup tickets.

Scuffles broke out on Sunday in the capital Dhaka as police intervened to break up arguments between fans and staff at the 80 bank branches where the tickets are being sold.

Slow sales triggered anger among the crowds, who also allege that the ticket allocation scheme is corrupt.

The World Cup, jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, opens on Feb 19 in Dhaka with a highly-anticipated match between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's national side have enjoyed a recent improvement in form and the chance to see them play at home against top-class opposition such as England, South Africa and the West Indies has generated huge interest.

Some fans received minor injuries on Sunday as riot police dispersed demonstrations over the lengthy queues, while several cars and buses were smashed up by protesters.

Thousands of fans, including many young girls, have been sleeping on the street wrapped in blankets.

"I have been here since Saturday morning. I could not get tickets on Sunday, but I haven't left my spot or lost hope yet," Prince Shikder, a businessman said outside a City Bank branch on Bagabandhu Avenue in central Dhaka.

About 700 people slept overnight in the queue, drinking hot tea and eating street snacks.

"We are afraid violence may flare up again today because bank officials are taking a long time to sell the tickets," said Shimul Chanda, the sub-inspector in charge of police outside the branch. -- AFP

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