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NST Online: Sports

Football: Malaysia urged to play like champions

Posted: 08 Feb 2011 04:01 PM PST

Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai Chung (left) greets national coach K. Rajagobal as FAM secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad looks on yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai Chung (left) greets national coach K. Rajagobal as FAM secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad looks on yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

MALAYSIA take to the field for the first time since winning the AFF Cup when they meet Hong Kong in an international friendly at the Shah Alam Stadium today.

More than a month ago, the team, coached by K. Rajagobal, lifted the AFF title in Jakarta and the party has been going on ever since in Kuala Lumpur.

Rajagobal now wants his boys to refocus on the mission ahead which is preparing for the World Cup Qualifiers and other important assignments.

"The AFF Cup triumph has lifted the confidence of my team. The boys are eager and in a buoyant mood but they must use it to their advantage," said Rajagobal at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

"I have lost several players through injuries but I don't want to make that an excuse ahead of this match. The fringe players should take this opportunity to impress.

"I want my players to play like Southeast Asian champions tomorrow (today). It will be a good start if they can gain a good result in their first international of the year."

Rajagobal also warned his players not to take Hong Kong lightly as the East Asian side are a formidable side. The 53-year-old was the national team's caretaker coach for a brief period when Malaysia were beaten twice by Hong Kong in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2004.

"I was the caretaker coach under then technical director Karl Weigang. I took over the team for a brief period as the national coach then with the Olympic squad.

"But frankly, I have not seen them (Hong Kong) play for awhile but I do know they did well in the Guangzhou Asian Games. I do not want my boys to take the match lightly," added Rajagobal.

Malaysia will have the services of 14 players who represented the country in the AFF Cup. Among those who will not play today due to injuries are goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee, Amar Rohidan (midfielder), S Chanturu and Izzaq Faris Ramlan (strikers).

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Azmi Muslim are also nursing injuries but they should be fit. Malaysia and Hong Kong have met nine times in either World Cup Qualifiers or Asian Cup Qualifiers, with the former British colony ahead 5-4. Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai Chung is excited about his team's match against Malaysia as he feels the hosts are a good team.

"I watched video recordings of Malaysia's matches in the Asian Games and AFF Cup and I must say, they are a good team," said Wai Chung.

"What impresses me most is that Malaysia performed well with young players. They are fast in their counter-attacks."

Wai Chung singled out Safee Sali as the most impressive player in the Malaysian team.

"I was hoping that Safee would not play tomorrow (today) but now that he is, we need to be careful. However, this match will be good experience for my young team," said Wai Chung, adding that his team have been preparing for the World Cup Qualifiers since late last year.

The squads -- Malaysia: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Farizal Marlias, Sabre Mat Abu, Asraruddin Putra, Aidil Zafuan Radzak, Faizal Muhd, G. Mahathevan, Safiq Rahim, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Azmi Muslim, K. Gurusamy, S. Kunanlan, Mahalli Jasuli, Shahrizal Mohd Saad, Amirulhadi Zainal, Muslim Ahmad, Ashaaru Samsuddin, Fadhli Mohd Shas; Coach: K. Rajagobal

Hong Kong: Yap Hung Fai, Wei Zhao, Li Hang Wui, Deng Jinghuang, Gerard Ambassa Guy, Wong Chin Hung, Lee Hong Lim, Lee Wai Lim, Lam Ka Wai, Cheung Kin Fung, Lo Chi Kwan, Chan Wai Ho, Chan Man Fai, Liu Quankun, Ye Jia, So Loi Keung, Chu Siu Kei, Tsang Kam To, Michael Cheng Lai Hin; Coach: Tsang Wai Chung.

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Tennis: Peng Shuai to play in BMW Malaysian Open

Posted: 08 Feb 2011 03:59 PM PST

Ajitpal Singh

Peng Shuai  is now the second highest ranked China player.

Peng Shuai is now the second highest ranked China player.

ASIAN Games champion Peng Shuai will lead Asia's challenge, in the absence of Li Na, in the US$220,000 (RM682,000) BMW Malaysian Open at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian & Country Resort on Feb 28-March 6.

Peng Shuai's confidence has been boosted since winning the singles and team titles for China in the Guangzhou Asian Games and the World No 40 now hopes to gain a positive result in Kuala Lumpur.

The 25-year-old is still hoping to win her first tour title since coming close twice in Forest Hills (New York) and Guangzhou, three years ago. Her best result in a grand slam was reaching the fourth round of this year's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Peng Shuai is now the second highest ranked China player, behind World No 7 Li Na, and is among a handful of Asian players in the main draw for the Malaysian Open. The others are Japan's Kimiko Date (55th), Ayuni Morita (58th) and Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn (70th).

India's World No 135 Sania Mirza is expected to be offered one of the four main draw wild cards.

The tournament favourites are Italy's World No 4 Francesca Schiavone, France's Marion Bartoli (World No 5) Russia's Alisa Kleybanova (23), Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova (30th) and Russia's former World No 1 Dinara Safina (113th).

The BMW Malaysian Open is organised by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) and promoted by Carbon Media Management Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Sports Ministry.

LTAM president Tan Sri Abdul Razak Latif hopes the tournament will help promote tennis among youngsters.

"We are always looking for avenues to create awareness and, ultimately, a larger base of home-grown talent. We believe that the BMW Malaysian Open will deliver just that," said Abdul Razak in a statement yesterday.

"Peng Shuai is a big tennis talent and local fans will be in for a real treat. They can expect an exciting tournament both on and off the courts."

For ticket information, visit www.ticketpro.com.my or contact 03-78807999.

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