By Martin Yee, easterntimes
KUCHING: Self belief. That’s the key word that coach Zaki Sheikh Ahmad will be drumming into the Sarawak players when they meet ATM in a home match where they desperately need a morale boosting win to salvage their morale.
Zaki used the last match against Harimau Muda where Sarawak lost 0-1 as the benchmark for their behaviour and performance.
In the match, Sarawak started well attacking in the opening minutes and even hit the post and dominated the game but when Harimau scored the only goal through a counter attack, the team just crumbled.
“They must have self-belief and they need to get the goals early which will relief the pressure on them.
“When the team conceded a goal, they just lost their composure and their game go to pieces.
“They should also change their attitude and one thing I want them to do is to start talking and stop shouting to one another.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) in the training, I told the strikers to buck up and don’t blame the others if they failed to score.
“They must score to release the pressure on them,” said Zaki.
The Sarawak players in fact can win matches as they got the chances to score against a top side like Harimau Muda in the last match.
Against ATM tonight, Zaki is confident they can pull off their first win to get the pressure off the backs of the players as he said they had to win it for the fans.
He said ATM are big spenders - having started training early in October - the same as other teams like FELDA FC and had won once, drew twice and lost once and lying in sixth position with four points.
“We have to win this one. There is no two ways about it and we have to win it for the fans,” said Zaki on tonight’s match against the Army boys whom Sarawak had beaten once, drew once with and lost one to last season.
Sarawak beat them 6-1 at home in the FA Cup but drew with them away while in a league match towards the end of the season, a dispirited Sarawak side suffered a shock defeat to.
The Sarawak side opened the season with a goaless draw at home against PDRM, lost 4-1 to FELDA FC away, then drew 1-1 against PKNS in a match they were supposed to win.
In their last match against Harimau Muda, they came away with a narrow 1-0 defeat.
Zaki said he will emphasise on the mental aspect of the players which had been in a main letdown.
He added that against FELDA, the players were strangely off-coloured as they played a jittery first-half, perhaps overawed by the number of national and former national players in their opponents.
Even in the last match against Harimau Muda, Zaki noted that most of the players did not have the right match temperament and need to be instilled the discipline of the game.
With Fadley Kassim the only casualty as he will miss the match due to red card suspension he received in the last three minutes of the match against Harimau Muda, Zaki will have other options in Hairol Moktar, Aris Ismail or Morris Jagan as the replacement to team up with Wong Sai Kong.
Upfront he will go for Zamri Morshidi-Effendi Malek combination which is more effective with striker Azralan Azmi on the bench while Shahrol Saperi and brother Azizan who have recovered from injury will be on both flanks while in central midfield, Abang Zafari Othman will likely partner Rafiz Ismail.
In defence, Firdaus Morshidi may have to give way to Dzulazlan Ibrahim on the left back role while Mazwandi Zekeria will man the right flank.