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NST Online: Sports

Badri raring to go

Posted: 15 Apr 2011 10:41 AM PDT

By Zainuddin Muhammad

 SDM Navy’s Badrul Hisham is tackled by Penang’s  Mohd Arif Fazlie Saidin (right) and K. Kuyilan yesterday. — Picture by Rosli Ahmad

SDM Navy's Badrul Hisham is tackled by Penang's Mohd Arif Fazlie Saidin (right) and K. Kuyilan yesterday. — Picture by Rosli Ahmad

AFTER warming the bench for the past two matches, Badri Radzi is itching to get back into action when Kelantan take on Sabah in Kota Baru today.

The captain, whose armband was given to striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha in the Felda United FC and Perak games last week, said he is ready to shoulder the responsibility of leading the team again.

"I just hope that coach M. Karathu feels the same way too as he was the one who told me that I needed a little rest after we lost to T-Team in Kuala Terengganu.

"My place in midfield was taken over by Danial Fadzly Abdullah and I was an unused substitute in Kota Baru when we won 6-0 over Felda United FC and also in Ipoh when we lost 4-0 to Perak," he said.

Karathu said Badri stands a good chance of being in the first eleven as Norshahrul will be out on suspension after collecting his third yellow card in Ipoh.

"Defender Shakir Shaari is also suspended for a similar offence and we are a little short on key personnel when we meet Sabah tomorrow (today).

"Another defender, Daudsu Jamaluddin, is also not 100 per cent fit and I may have to bring in S. Subramaniam for replacement," he said.

The coach said the one-match ban on Norshahrul and Shakir should be a blessing in disguise as the two players are in need of a break from the month's hectic schedule.

"With nine matches scheduled for April and 10 more games in May, we have to plan carefully to avoid losing key players for key matches."

Karathu said Sabah, who are on a three-match unbeaten streak, should also be considered a serious threat.

"They have a psychological advantage of knowing that they had become the only team to beat Perak who, just days later, humiliated us with a 4-0 drubbing.

"But knowing my boys, they will be up for the challenge and chances are, the three points should ours," he said.

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Chelsea to shake off Euro blues

Posted: 15 Apr 2011 09:01 AM PDT

LONDON: The focus at Chelsea switched immediately from the quest for honours and settled on Carlo Ancelotti's future the moment the final whistle blew on the London club's Champions League campaign this week.

Defeat in the quarter-final at Manchester United means Ancelotti's side no longer have a realistic chance of landing silverware this year and will travel to face West Bromwich Albion with only a place in the top four at stake.

Eleven points adrift of United in the Premier League, albeit with a game in hand, Chelsea have only the faintest of hopes of retaining the title they won last year.

And sitting five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham with seven games remaining, they should be assured of qualification for next season's Champions League.

Whether that will be enough to secure Ancelotti's position as manager remains to be seen.

The Italian has been under growing pressure ever since his side's impressive start to the season came to an abrupt end three months into the campaign. And their continuing failure to reverse a steadily downward trend has led to increased speculation that owner Roman Abramovich is planning major changes ahead of next term.

It may already be too late for Ancelotti to win back the owner's favour and a slip at a fast-improving West Brom will only increase the sense that the manager is a dismissal waiting to happen.

The Italian's team selection will scrutinised for signs of whether he is planning ahead -- and the position of Fernando Torres will again attract the most attention.

The striker was withdrawn at half time at Old Trafford after once again failing to break his scoring duck for the club he joined in a record STG50 million (RM247 million) move on transfer deadline day in January.

The failure to land silverware has inevitably darkened the mood at Stamford Bridge but keeper Petr Cech insists the club must now set the revised target of finishing runners up.

"We had a good start to the season, then it became difficult but we were doing well in the Champions League so far until those two games against Man United.

"We were unlucky in the first game and today they won, but overall they won both games and they deserve to go through.

"There are seven games to play. Those seven games will make a big difference, if you go and win most of the points I think we can finish second, and the season can be remembered with a head up. We have to qualify to have another go at the Champions League next season."

Meanwhile, West Brom midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu has rubbed salt into Chelsea's wounds after their Champions League exit by claiming they aren't as good as they used to be.

Ancelotti's side aim to return to winning ways against an in-form Baggies side who climbed to 10th by beating Sunderland last weekend and are now out to settle an old score following their 6-0 thrashing by the Londoners on the opening weekend.

"Apart from that game, we can say we deserve to stay in the Premier League. So it is about revenge, because the result against them was ridiculous," Mulumbu said.

"They're not as good at the moment so I think we can have a great result on Saturday. It would be great because we're on 39 points and, if we win, we'd be on 42." -- AFP

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