A NEW LOOK MALAYSIAN ARMED FORCES AIMING BIG IN M-LEAGUE
PUTRAJAYA (12 DECEMBER 2011) – The Malaysian Armed Forces football team are ready to throw in their challenge in the Premier League to win promotion to the Super League when the new M-League season gets underway next month.
Armed Forces, have drawn up massive plans to launch their assault for promotion and possibly spring a surprise in FA Cup and Malaysia Cup competitions to make up for their past disappointments.
Armed Forces have “rebranded” them-selves with a massive recruitment drive that has created a lot of interest. In fact, Armed Forces are the talk of the town even before the new look team plays its first competitive match.
Football fans can expect Armed Forces to take the Malaysian football scene by storm. The Malaysian Armed Forces FA started the ball rolling by hiring former national team and national Under-23 coach B. Sathianathan as the new head coach.
The Negri Sembilan-born Sathianathan, who is also the team manager, was given a free hand to look for players and he virtually hand-picked the team for the new season.
With most of the players having gone through his tutelage at one time or other during his stint with the national teams, it is not a surprise that he has got what he wanted.
In the Malaysian Armed Forces stable are some of the big names in Malaysian football, who are not only the best football talent in the country but also names who can win matches and titles for the team.
Armed Forces landed five from newly crowned Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan, including the Radzak twins – internationals Mohd Aidil Zafuan and Mohd Zaquan Adha. Also in the stable are striker Hairuddin Omar, defender Irwan Fadzli Idrus and goalkeeper Farizal Harun. Also in their stable is former international, playmaker Rezal Zambery Yahya from Johor FC, who played for Negri from 2005 to 2010.
It does not stop at that. Fitri Omar from Muar Municipality, who was the Premier League’s top scorer last season, Christie Jayaseelan (from PKNS), A. Varathan (Sime Darby) plus two players who represented the country in the World University Games 2011 in Shenzen – namely K. Reuben (UKM) and Amiridzwan Taj Tajudin (UiTM) will also don Armed Forces colours in the new season.
The team is further strengthened by two well known foreigners, who are not new to the M-League. St Vincent striker Marlon Alex James, 35, helped Kedah clinch a treble in 2007 and 2008 while midfielder Bruno Sebastian Martelotto, 29 was the ace in the pack when MPPJ FC became the first club to win the Malaysia Cup in 2003.
The big “clean up” by Armed Forces for the 2012 season will see only three players from the 2011 squad in the present team – Rosaiful Nizam Omar, Hardy Charles Parsi and Yusaini Che Saad.
“It does not matter where you play in the league. What you need is quality to light up the league. And I have got the players who can give depth to the team to achieve our first target…to gain promotion to the Super League,” said Sathianathan, adding that FA Cup and the Malaysia Cup competitions are also on the radar.
“I was given a freehand in picking the team and I have got the material that I wanted. As many were tied down by contracts with their previous teams, we could only start training from the beginning of this month. We have arranged a number of friendly matches to gel the players.
“We will also go on a three-match playing tour of Myanmar. The results in the friendly matches do not count as I will be looking at individual performance and how best the players can gel as a unit in our quest for honours.
“The players we have got in the team can also bring in the crowd. I am confident we can bring back the fans to the stadiums even if we are playing in the lower tier.”
In Sathianathan’s own words, Armed Forces “will be ready” to face the challenge when the M-League gets underway next month.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the man behind the “rebranding” which in fact began in 2010, never gave up hope of seeing a strong Armed Forces team that could challenge the best in the country.
“With eight players from Super League teams and two foreign players who established themselves as players of calibre, I am confident Armed Forces will be able to achieve the target of a top two finish in the Premier League,” said Zahid at the introduction of the players and the launching of the team’s website at Hotel JW Marriot here today.
For Armed Forces chief, General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, who is also the president of the Armed Forces FA, the signing of Sathianathan and his two assistants Kamaruddin Mohd Noor and Shahrin Majid plus goalkeepers coach Abdul Hamid Ramli has given creditability in building a strong team.
Armed Forces have picked Petaling Jaya Stadium as their home ground for the new season – replacing Selayang Stadium.
Released by Shekhinah PR on behalf of Armed Forces Football Association
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