By K. RAJAN – PETALING JAYA: Armed Forces’ guns are certainly blazing and coach B. Sathianathan is all smiles.
In the final run-up to the Jan 5 Charity Shield showdown with treble champions Kelantan, reigning Premier League champions Forces showed their prowess by thumping Premier League side Pos Malaysia at the Proton Stadium in Tanjung Malim on Saturday.
Winger Venice Elphi and midfielder Shukor Adan grabbed a brace each while youngster Syazuan Hazani contributed the other goal.
The soldiers began their pre-season in Bangkok with a 3-0 loss to Army United on Dec 13. Three days later, they held Siam Navy 2-2 with Hairuddin Omar and Yusaini Hafiz Che Saad on target. Forces ended their stint in Thailand with a 1-0 loss to Bangkok Glass on Dec 18.
“I’m very happy with our preparations. I believe we are on the right track to start our Super League campaign,” said Sathianathan, a former national coach.
What was more pleasing for Sathianathan was that they carved out the win over Pos Malaysia despite using their second stringers.
Regulars like Marlon James, Bruno Martelotto, D. Christie Jayaselan and new acquisition Affize Faisal Mamat could not play after suffering knocks during the playing tour of Thailand.
“The second stringers did well under the guidance of seniors like Rezal Zambry Yahya and Hairuddin. We know now that we can rely on them if there are any injuries in the team,” said Sathianathan.
Sathianathan added that he was not too concerned with the departures of three national players – twins Mohd Aidil Zafuan and Mohd Zaquan Adha and Azmi Muslim – to Super League side Johor Darul Takzim FC.
“We don’t have star mentality in the team. We will play as a unit,” said Sathianathan who guided Forces to the Premier League title and Malaysia Cup final last season.
“We have 22 games to play in the league so we must have the right balance throughout the season. We need to be consistent, work harder and stay injury free.”
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