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NST Online: Sports

Football: Karathu pays tribute to players

Posted: 30 Jan 2011 04:25 PM PST

Ajitpal Singh

Kelantan coach M. Karathu (right) says his defenders didn’t give Selangor   much room   to operate. — Picture by Osman Adnan

Kelantan coach M. Karathu (right) says his defenders didn't give Selangor much room to operate. — Picture by Osman Adnan

IT'S not everyday a newly appointed coach wins a title in his very first match with a new team.

M. Karathu achieved that feat in style on Saturday when he guided Kelantan to their first ever Charity Shield win in their very first appearance.

Little was expected from Kelantan, last year's Malaysia Cup winners, but they defied the odds to beat star-studded Selangor, the Super League champions, 2-0 with goals from Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (penalty) and a Mohd Badhri Radzi free kick at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Karathu, who was named Kelantan coach only two days before match day replacing the suspended B. Sathianathan, still managed to work his magic despite limited time with his players.

"What can I say? Everything has fallen into place. It is one of my best moments as a coach and also a perfect return for me to local football," said Karathu, 67.

"The pressure was tremendous on Kelantan as Malaysia Cup champions. At the start, it did not look good for Kelantan as they had to rely on a mixed squad of experienced and young players today (Saturday). I am happy that it all worked well."

Winning the Charity Shield has underlined Kelantan's credentials as one of the favourites in this season's Super League and will definitely put the team, who recently lost five regulars, in the right frame of mind.

On the secret behind Kelantan's win, Karathu said he only organised the tactical aspect of the team due to limited time with them.

"I believe we won because we were better organised in all positions. We knew we needed something special to pull it off against a great team like Selangor.

"My players stayed disciplined and played to instructions throughout the match," said the former Perak coach.

Karathu also praised striker Norshahrul and new signings, Mohd Nurul Azwan Roya and K. Solihin for their roles in the match.

"They were well tuned with my game plan especially Mohd Nurul and Solihin who both played well on the flanks. Norshahrul also put his speed to good use to upset Selangor's momentum.

"However, we could not have done it if not for my defenders and midfielders. They closed the gaps really well and did not allow their more established opponents to take control," he said.

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Cycling / LTDL: Forster rides out the storm

Posted: 30 Jan 2011 04:20 PM PST

By Arnaz M. Khairul

Robert Forster sprints ahead at the end of LTdL’s Stage Eight that was run under pouring rain from start to finish yesterday. — Picture by Fariz Iswadi

Robert Forster sprints ahead at the end of LTdL's Stage Eight that was run under pouring rain from start to finish yesterday. — Picture by Fariz Iswadi

A RAIN-DRENCHED Stage Eight of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) saw Germany's Robert Forster edge compatriot Andre Schulze for victory in a bunch sprint at the end of the 156.5km route from Tampin to Jasin yesterday.

While the yellow jersey went to Jonnathan Monsalve, it was 33-year-old Forster's first win of the season and the first for his new team United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team from Milram in the off-season.

It came after Androni Gioccatoli's Monsalve of Venezuela attacked the intermediate sprints for time bonuses, coming second twice to reverse the two seconds deficit to LeTua Cycling Team's Libardo Nino for the overall lead.

The battle for the yellow jersey will take centre stage on the penultimate day today, with Androni Gioccatoli in a superior position to defend Genting stage winner Monsalve.

The LeTua Cycling Team were yesterday left with just four riders after Australian Sam Witmitz was asked to stop by the medical team after he suffered breathing difficulties.

Up front, it was all Androni Gioccatoli's for the taking during the stage that was run under pouring rain from start to finish.

Monsalve had Italian teammate Luca Barla doing his lead-outs for the intermediate sprints, as the sprinters' teams seemed to take a day off with points classification leader Andrea Guardini, happy to mark Terengganu-Pro Asia's Anuar Manan out, and focused towards the bunch sprint finish.

Guardini finished fourth behind Forster, Schulze and New Zealander Dene Rogers of the Giant-Kenda team to extend the cushion between himself and Anuar to 21 points. The Malaysian admitted it would now be virtually impossible for him to repeat the points classification victory he achieved last year.

"Today (yesterday) the sprinters' teams weren't that active, so that made it easier for us to attack for the time bonuses from the intermediate sprints.

"I had a two seconds deficit from Nino, so I'm thankful to my team for helping me get the bonuses at the intermediate sprints to make it up.

"We have a two seconds lead now and I'm confident of bringing it to the finish in Kuala Lumpur," said Monsalve, who also holds a comfortable lead in the mountains classification.

While the heavy rain seemed to cool off any challenge from the local riders yesterday with none being active, Forster described himself as well warmed up for the day.

"In the first three or four stages, I was struggling as my legs weren't really feeling that good. In the off-season I trained in Germany before joining the new team, but it was very cold there.

"Yesterday (Saturday) I felt that I was finally getting into rhythm and my legs were feeling better and better as the race progressed, so I managed to get to sprint well for the victory," said Forster, an experienced pro who previously rode for the now defunct UCI Pro Team Gerolsteiner and is now winding down his career with UCI Americas Tour team United Healthcare.

Stage Nine from Malacca to Nilai today will provide a final opportunity for any real changes in the main classifications with the question on everyone's lips being about whether the depleted LeTua Cycling Team can mount a serious attack on Gianni Savio's Androni Team.

The 151.7km stage is predominantly flat and only interrupted by a single category 4 climb after 120.7km in Lenggeng, with three intermediate sprints lined up in Linggi, Rantau and Mantin.

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