By ERIC SAMUEL (The Star) - PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby FC’s prolific striker Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh has been the hero in the Premier League club’s fairy tale run to the FA Cup semi-finals.
The 21-year-old Liberian international is, without a doubt, one of the best buys of the season having scored an impressive 14 goals in 17 matches.
Sime Darby coach Ismail Zakaria said Wleh has played a pivotal role in the club’s strong showing in the Premier League and FA Cup.
“Wleh has been outstanding and crucial to the team’s progress. Ultimately, it all boils down to team effort but Wleh’s contribution has been significant,” said Ismail yesterday.
Club secretary cum assistant manager Zainal Amat shared the same view, saying Wleh was only getting better with each match.
“He is much sharper now and in hot scoring form. He has struck a brace in each of our last three matches.
“He really has been a revelation so far and could take us places this season.
“Our pre-season scouting trip to Monrovia has paid off. We were there for five days and the coach picked Wleh. It wasn’t on anyone’s recommendation as we watched him play in two friendly matches before deciding,” said Zainal.
Sime Darby have been the giant-killers of the FA Cup, scalping Super League sides Sabah (2-0) in the first round and Johor FC (5-3 on aggregate) in the quarter-finals. They beat Premier League side USM 2-0 in the second round.
Sime Darby play defending champions Terengganu in the semi-finals. They travel to Kuala Terengganu for the first leg on Saturday with the return leg at home on May 1.
“Wleh has been scoring in all the matches in the FA Cup and has five goals so far. He has also created numerous chances for his teammates. We could go all the way if we maintain this form,” said Zainal.
To add more bite to the team, the club signed up Leandro Santos Pinto from Brazil in the recent transfer window.
The attacking midfielder replaces Liberian Sengbah Kennedy.
“The coach wanted to bolster the attack and Sengbah is more of a defensive midfielder. We need to push harder as there is a strong contest for the top spot in the Premier League with table-toppers Armed Forces and Pahang ahead of us,” said Zainal.
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