PRECIOUS POINT FOR STRUGGLING JOHOR FC
JOHOR BAHRU (27 MAY 2012) - Coach Sazali Saidon sees hope in his team qualifying for the Malaysia Cup after watching Johor FC hold mighty Kelantan to a scoreless draw in the only Super League match played at the Pasir Gudang Stadium on Saturday.
It is all the more encouraging for Johor FC, who had to take the field without seven first team players – all kayoed by injuries. The stalemate, however, failed to change the league positions for both teams.
While Kelantan remained in second place behind Singapore’s Lions XII with 38 points from 17 matches – six behind the leaders, who are on 44 points but have played 22 matches, Johor FC are still second from the bottom with 16 points only two points behind 12th placed Kedah.
“Frankly, we could have won against Kelantan if only we had been sharper with our finishing. We hit the woodwork once and saw Khairul Fahmi (Kelantan’s national goalkeeper) deny us three times.
“Still it was a commendable effort from Johor FC. The players were committed and showed lots of discipline and fighting spirit against the big names of Kelantan.
“This is the type of performance that has given us hope. Many had expected Kelantan to whitewash us and even predicted huge scores. In a way it motivated us,” said Sazali who has now won one, lost one and drawn one in his three matches with the team.
Against Kelantan, Sazali had to do a major reshuffle after losing Kaironnissam Sahabudin, Khairi Kiman, Eddie Helmi Abdul Manan, Azi Shahril Azmi, Zamri Chin and Shafizan Hashim.
“Unlike Kelantan, we do not have depth on the bench. But on Saturday, those who were called upon for duty did not disappointment. This has given the management and me hope that all is not lost.
“Our next match (against Perak in Ipoh on June 16) is three weeks away. I hope to improve on our finishing in training. I may make some positional changes due to the long injury list.”
Sazali has called on the players to forget about the team’s current position and instead focus on the coming matches.
“Let us not get distracted by the table standings. We should instead look towards winning the matches that lie ahead. Let us also not be bothered by the position of our opponents. It will only put undue pressure on our-selves,” added Sazali.