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NST Online: Sports

Kedah start to shine under Radhi

Posted: 03 Apr 2011 10:55 AM PDT

By Devinder Singh

Kuala Lumpur’s Azmi Sarmin (left) fights for the ball with  Kedah’s Khairul Helmi Johari   in their match   on Saturday. — Picture by Aizuddin Saad

Kuala Lumpur's Azmi Sarmin (left) fights for the ball with Kedah's Khairul Helmi Johari in their match on Saturday. — Picture by Aizuddin Saad

AFTER just two matches in charge, Radhi Mat Din has succeeded in turning around the fortunes of Kedah but he still has some way to go to win over the fans.

Saturday's 1-0 Super League success against Kuala Lumpur in Cheras followed a 2-1 home win over Terengganu prior to the international break, which came after Radhi took over the reins from Ahmad Yusoff who was "rested".

But Kedah still needed a last minute winner from Azmi Muslim to snatch the three points and Radhi was the first to admit that there remains much to do.

"Our first half performance was neither here nor there. That was not the real Kedah. Had KL scored, there would have been no way back for us," said Radhi after the match at KLFA Stadium.

"But we did better in the second half, we pressed KL for 15-20 minutes, we were compact and able to hit them on the break with some success. We did not quite expect the goal to come so late."

Azmi volleyed home from outside the box after Norazlan Razali's punch off a corner did not get much distance although KL should have been given a free-kick as the KL goalkeeper appeared to have been fouled but referee Anuar Che Husin allowed play to carry on.

The win lifted Kedah to sixth place in the table ahead of their home game against Johor FC tomorrow with Radhi insisting the winning mentality is back even as the Kedah Ultras unveiled a banner criticising manager Datuk Khazali Din.

"During the break, we had a chance to right what was wrong and we used the two weeks to lift the morale of the players. We need time to make progress and improve the level of the players," added Radhi, who captained Kedah's 1993 Malaysia Cup-winning team.

Radhi has a concern over Sabre Mat Abu when they take on Johor FC after the midfielder was replaced at half-time with an injury while right-back V. Thirumurugan also hobbled off in the second half.

KL, who have not scored from open play in their last six matches, dropped to 11th in the table with coach Razip Ismail still puzzling over his non-firing strikers.

Injuries have also robbed KL of playmaker Azwan Malek and defenders Farouk Hashim and Farid Ramli. They travel to Paroi to face Negri Sembilan tomorrow.

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Milan underline title credentials

Posted: 03 Apr 2011 08:24 AM PDT

MILAN: AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said he was delighted his side have put their recent blip behind them as they romped to a convincing 3-0 win over main rivals Inter Milan.

Brazilian Pato scored a brace before Antonio Cassano added a late penalty as Milan moved five points clear of the champions.

Napoli could close that gap back to three points if they beat Lazio in a late match yesterday but more importantly for Allegri his side bounced back from their shoddy performances against Bari and Palermo, from which they picked up only a solitary point out of six.

"It's too soon to say that this is the game that landed the title but we showed serenity and we played well. We more than deserved to win," he said.

"The lads played well showing that the games against Bari (1-1) and Palermo (0-1) were just a blip."

Milan were helped when Inter's Cristian Chivu was harshly dismissed nine minutes into the second period for a supposed foul on Pato, although the contact appeared negligible and the Brazilian seemed to have no need to go down with only Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar to beat.

However, Pato insisted that he had not dived to get the Romanian defender sent off.

"I wanted to continue but he gave me a kick, I fell and the referee did well because it was a goal-scoring chance," he said.

The only down side for Milan was a red card shown to Cassano for two bookings within a minute.

First he was shown yellow for removing his shirt while celebrating his goal and he got a second moments later for a silly trip on Ivan Cordoba.

"After Chivu's dismissal we controlled the game well," said Allegri.

"I'm disappointed about Cassano's sending off, but unfortunately this taking off the shirt is a vice that needs to be avoided."

Although the Chivu red card seemed incredibly harsh, and indeed a booking for Pato for diving would have appeared fairer, Inter coach Leonardo wasn't complaining.

"The interpretation of fouls and what constitutes a red card changes from one country to another," he said.

"I don't talk about these things when we win or lose, I don't talk about the referees because they're not what determines the final result so there's nothing to talk about."

Inter now sit five points back with Napoli six and Udinese nine behind, although the latter two both have a game in hand. -- AFP

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