Friday, February 12, 2010

Expectations run high for Crocs

by Simon Ingka Crown 

S’wak sweat on Fadly, Shahrol fitness ahead of MP Muar clash

KUCHING: Sarawak skipper Mohd Fadly Kassim and winger Mohd Shahrol Saperi are still doubtful for the away Premier League match against clubside Johor MP Muar today.
Coach Mohd Zaki Sheikh Ahmad said both players may not regain their fitness in time to make the final eleven after picking up injuries in the recent FA Cup ties against Penang. 
Shahrol received a knock in the first leg at Batu Kawan, Penang, while Fadly was forced to retire with shoulder pain in the second leg at home.

“They will be travelling with the team to Johor but I’m still undecided whether or not to field them. 
Both are continuing their training and I hope to have good news regarding their fitness before the game,” the coach said yesterday. 
Buoyed by their victory over Super League side Penang in the FA Cup last week, Sarawak are looking forward to another good result today.

“The players are now more determined and the preparation is good. We just want to avoid any cards as it could spoil our rhythm. Hopefully, things will go our way,” he added.

Zaki said his boys put up a gallant effort to move into the next round of the FA Cup and he hoped they would continue to play with the same never-say-die fighting spirit.

“This is a good time to collect full points. 
Every chance created must be properly taken. We can’t afford to fluff every chance we create in every game. 
In previous matches, we held the lead but still lost out in the end. This time around, we hope to finish on a winning note.”

And to do this, he needs to strengthen his back four.

“This department (defence) seems to be the weakest. I will definitely do something to tighten it up. It will cost us dearly if the defenders lose their concentration,” he added.

With Fadly still doubtful and lanky defender Maswandi Zekeria serving a one-match ban, it looks like versatile defensive midfielder Wong Sai Kong will be slotted for the central defence role with either Mohd Fareez Tukijo or Mohd Hairol Mohktar assisting in the flanks.

Should Fadly be fit, then Sai Kong may be switched to the left flanker position, taking over from Maswandi.

No changes are expected in midfield, marshalled by the experienced Abang Mohd Zafari Abang Othman.
Zaki is still relying on veteran Effendi Malek and rookie Sufizal to lead the attack.

With high expectations on his shoulders to parlay the FA Cup return leg win last week into a Premier League win today for Sarawak’s second success in their campaign so far this season, the coach hoped the players would fight till the final whistle.

“I’m not worried about the other team – my fear is more for my own team. As the old proverbs says, it’s better to afraid of our own soldiers than the enemy,” he said.

Apparently, he used the proverb to denote his fear that some of the players may become dispirited when the other side score first instead of sticking to their guns to the very end.

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