Tag Archives: Seladangs

A Decent Start


Perak FA kicked off their Malaysian Super League campaign on a rather decent note, gaining two wins, a draw and two losses from their first five outings.

Perak Fottball Team - SeladangsThe Seladangs got off to a morale-boosting start, as they completed a late 1-0 victory over Peter Butler’s T-Team FC in Lumut. After that, Azraai Khor brought his troops to face moneybags Johor Darul Takzim in Larkin.

The game was dominated by the home side and the Seladangs got two men sent off just before half time for bad tackles. However, Perak fought hard to stay in the game, and while they did ultimately lose 0-1 to Johor, the grit and determination shown were inspiring enough for the fans.

Next, they faced Felda United at home. Although the Seladangs were solid in defense their attacking department was a big let-down. The absence of key players like S. Chanturu and Karim Rouani was affecting them as they struggled to finish off key chances in the final third of the field.

Similarly, the game against Felda was pretty even but the Settlers were much more clinical upfront and they ended up snatching a 1-0 victory against the Seladangs.

Notwithstanding that Azraai Khor still has faith in his side’s capabilities, as he took them to Seremban to take on Negeri Sembilan at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Stadium on Saturday, January 19. This was a special occasion for Azraai as he had coached Negeri for two years and only parted company with them last year. However, it was business as usual and the boys delivered.

Failee Ghazali struck in the 94th minute to give Perak a dramatic last-gasp win over the Deers, taking them to six points from their first four games. On the back of that morale-boosting win, Perak returned home to face traditional rivals Selangor FA just three days later.

The Red Giants were brimming with confidence after beating league leaders Pahang just days before and were looking to take down the Seladangs as well. But contrary to expectation, it was Perak who dominated proceedings early on, as they constantly pressured Selangor with a wide array of passing arsenal.

Selangor did take the lead through Francis Forkey Doe in the second half though, but Perak rallied back to restore parity through Abdul Hadi Yahya’s penalty. The game finished 1-1. Had it not been for several refereeing mishaps, the result could have been different.

So after five pulsating matches in the Malaysian Super League, the Seladangs have collected seven points and are currently 6th in the league table. Not a bad start to the season, but there were several weaknesses that need to be rectified.

Defensively, the Seladangs seem to be rock solid, especially with Brazilian defender Rafael Novais marshalling it. He has, arguably, been our best player thus far and deserves all the plaudits coming his way. However, we have been shambolic offensively. Karim Rouani is still nursing an injury while Abdul Hadi Yahya struggled to regain his scoring touch. Failee seems to be inconsistent as well.

The Super League will now go on a three-week break, to give space for the national team matches to take place. Azraai Khor needs to use this break wisely, allowing his players to rest and recuperate and to be prepared for tougher matches ahead when the league resumes next month.


Perak Team 2013 Unveiled


Perak FA announced its squad for the 2013 Malaysian Super League season during a specially organised event at the Mydin Mall in Meru Raya recently. Team manager Khairul Azwan and head coach, Azraai Khor Abdullah were present along with almost 800 fans jam-packed in the mall. Foreign signings, Rafael Novais and Karim Rouani, were also there. The occasion provided an opportunity for diehard fans to get a glimpse of their idols. All players were present except for S. Chanturu, who was nursing a knee injury and Farizal Marlias, who was given an extended break after his national team duty in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012.

Perak Football Team - SeladangsHaving drafted several big names, the Seladangs is geared to make a strong impression in 2013, something that PAFA President, Dato’ Zainol Fadzi, felt was possible with a solid home support. The fans’ presence, said Zainol, would inspire the players.

The following day the squad of 22 players departed for a series of friendly matches in the Northern region of Malaysia. They trashed Perlis FA 4-0 at the Kangar Stadium. However, head coach Azraai Khor Abdullah wasn’t impressed.  “The players need time to gel, especially with the two foreign players, Rafael and Karim. It’s too early to judge anyone. So far, I am happy with what I see,” said Azraai to reporters.

There is bad news in store for Perak fans ahead of the start of the new Malaysian Super League season. Football Association of Malaysia requires stadiums to be fitted with 1000 lux floodlights for night play. The Ipoh stadium is fitted with 800 lux floodlights.

Perak FA has brokered a deal to upgrade the facility which will begin in January. This means the Seladangs are likely to play their night home matches at the Lumut Naval Base Stadium until March.

The full Perak squad for 2013 Malaysian Super League season:

Farizal Marlias (GK), Khairul Amri (GK), Mohd Jibrail (GK), V. Thirumurugan, Syazwan Roslan, Hisyamuddin, Rafael Novais, Shahrom Kalam, Khairi Kiman, Noor Hazrul, S. Chanturu, M. Sivakumar, Shahrulnizam Mustapha (C), Mohd Nasir, Rafiuddin Roddin, M. Yoganathan, Yong Kuong Yong, Mohd Failee, Azlan Ismail, Hadi Yahya, Karim Rouani.

The Seladangs’ initiation to this year’s Super League began with a last minute win over Kuala Terengganu’s T-Team at the Lumut Naval Base Stadium on Tuesday, January 8. It was a scrappy 90-minute affair with both teams playing a cautious game. A header by Rafael Novais was deflected by a T-Team player and the ball went straight into the opponent’s net.


AFC Cup Dreams Up In Smoke


SeladangsPerak’s dreams of qualifying for next year’s AFC Cup were shattered after a string of defeats forced them to settle for fourth place in the league table. With Singapore LionsXII – who will not take up a Malaysian slot – securing second spot, the third-placed team was guaranteed of a place in next year’s edition of the continental tournament. Perak failed to make full use of the opportunity, as they performed miserably under pressure.

After a one-month hiatus, the Seladangs were raring to go. The league title was out of their grasp but qualification for the AFC Cup was a good alternative. Feeling motivated, Norizan Bakar’s men responded in style.

Two consecutive home wins over Felda United and Johor FC in June provided them the tonic to advance further.  They took on Sarawak FA in Kuching and secured a 2-1 victory with goals from Michal Kubala and Albert Bodjongo.

Next on the card was a tricky home tie against T-Team FC, and they negotiated past it successfully. The visitors took a shocking lead before Perak gained parity through Nazri Kamal. Two more goals from Failee and Bodjongo increased their lead before T-Team ensured a nervy ending for the home side by pulling back a late goal through Faiz Subri. Norizan Bakar’s men stood firm and gained three vital points.

At this stage, AFC Cup seemed plausible. The boys knew that only victories in their remaining matches would put them in the driver’s seat. This was when the troubles started.

PKNS visited the Perak Stadium and were largely outplayed by the home side. Akmal Rizal gave Seladangs the lead and a victory seemed likely by the first half. PKNS, however, kept the pressure on and notched two come-from-behind goals to deny victory for the home side.

The defeat was a bitter pill for Perak to swallow. The boys carried the disappointment to Kota Bahru, where they took on the mighty Kelantanese. Norizan Bakar’s men were given an absolute soccer lesson by the technically astute Red Warriors. The Seladangs were trounced 6 nil. The score line was abysmal and Perak’s fate hung on a balance.

The players knew that a victory against Kedah would put them in good stead, heading into the final round of matches. But that was not to be, a below par performance saw them losing 2-1 to Kedah, who were down to 10 men for most of the second half.

The defeat allowed Selangor to edge Perak for the third spot in the league standing. Although the team faltered, a fourth place finish means that the Seladangs can still hold their heads high heading into the Malaysia Cup, which is scheduled to begin in September. Norizan Bakar, meanwhile, has gone on leave; may be for good this time around.


Young Seladangs Finish in Style


2012 President Cup - perak footballPerak emerged as the 2012 President Cup champion for the first time in five years, after overcoming NS Betaria in the final clash at the Perak Stadium recently. After a gruelling campaign that lasted approximately five months, Nurridzuan Abu Hassan’s solitary goal was perfect enough to etch a fitting finale to their successful season.

So much had been said about Perak’s younger crop of players prior to the season, with many tipping against their chances of making history. Bigger soccer states like Kelantan and Terengganu were touted as favourites to take the title, but the Young Seladangs worked their guts out to come on top.

With Nurridzuan Abu Hassan back in the President Cup squad after a short foray in the senior team last year, Perak had a terrific start to their campaign. Six wins in their first seven matches allowed them to sit comfortably at the top of the Group B table, which included big names like Selangor and Terengganu.

Under the tutelage of Abu Bakar Fadzim, the President Cup squad maintained its composure, losing only twice throughout the group stage campaign. It garnered 58 points in the process, as they finished second in the group behind PKNS FC. Nevertheless, it was enough for them to book a quarter final tie against northern rival, Kedah.

In the last eight stage, Perak drew first blood by securing a 4-2 victory at home over the Canaries, giving them a much needed two-goal advantage before the return leg in Alor Star. Predictably, the Young Seladangs drew 2-2, thus securing their semi-final spot.

Abu Bakar’s men were paired against favourites Terengganu in the semi finals and it proved to be a battle of epic proportions. In the first leg at Kuala Terengganu, both sides came out firing on all cylinders, attempting to seize the early initiative. Both Perak and Terengganu wasted chance after chance and just when the match seemed destined to end scoreless, the Turtles seized a late winner to take home the advantage.

Perak’s Young Seladangs were far from done and dusted as they bounced back impeccably to beat them 2-0 in the second leg clash in Ipoh, advancing into the final on a 2-1 aggregate. It was a morale-boosting win that inspired the team heading into the final battle.

In what had been a terrific showcase of talent and capabilities from the Under-20 boys, the stage was set for them to make history in their very own fortress. Having said that, skipper Nurridzuan Abu Hassan netted the winning goal to seal a memorable victory over NS Betaria.  The path to success was definitely tough, but these youngsters proved their worth for Perak.


Seladangs in Review


Perak football, Perak FAOver half a season has gone by now, Perak FA has faced plenty of adversities and challenges in this campaign; it doesn’t seem to get easier at all. From inconsistency to complacency and misfiring forwards, the problems seem endless. Nevertheless, with all the international football action hogging the limelight, the Seladangs are in for a respite, for the moment at least.

With only eight wins out of their 18 league matches so far, Perak is currently ranked seventh in the league table. Perhaps it’s time we sit back and analyse what went wrong for the Seladangs.

No Hunger in Attack

This is one significant drawback of the home team. It has failed to produce enthusiasm when on the offensive, which translates into the fact that a mediocre midfielder, in the form of Michal Kubala, is currently leading their goal scoring charts with only 11 strikes. Lazar Popovic was a great disappointment during the first half of the season, failing to score a single goal. Experienced forward, Akhmal Rizal looked jaded as well. A lot of hope was placed on young forward Failee Ghazalee, especially after his impressive outing during Perak’s Malaysia Cup campaign last year. However, the former USM striker sustained a serious injury early on in the season and, in spite of recovery, has failed to regain his form.


Fans, however, seem to agree on one fact – Perak players are not on par with their counterparts in the Kelantan and Terengganu teams. Fans want Norizan Bakar’s men to be composed on the pitch and remain consistent in their build-up. Unfortunately, this is the key element that is missing in Perak this year. Its longest winning streak this season was during the early stages of the season, when the players were on a roll with four consecutive wins over Negeri Sembilan, Johor FC, Felda United and Sarawak. Since then, inconsistency has dogged the team all the way.


This is a worrying trend for Perak. There have simply been too many occasions this season when opposing teams are allowed to peg the team, despite dominating the matches on the whole. The Seladangs outplayed LionsXII at the Perak Stadium last February. After leading 1-0 scoreline for much of the way, complacency crept in and they ended up losing 2-1. Similarly, Norizan Bakar’s men were expected to steamroll past Sabah at home in April, after beating them a week before. The Sabahans fought hard and secured a 2-2 draw much to the dismay of diehard fans. Team manager, Khairul Azwan appeared to have had the last straw in their wasteful 2-2 draw with Terengganu in May.

With only seven games left in the season, there isn’t much Perak can do to save its downward spiral. With LionsXII, Terengganu and Kelantan leading the title charge, the only thing Perak can do right now is to salvage some pride. It’s time to have a good rest, recuperate and go for broke. A good ending to the Super League season would provide a timely boost for the Malaysia Cup campaign later this year.


Seladangs Beginning to be Complacent?


When Joseph Kalang Tie opened the scoring for Terengganu against Perak, the script was already in the Turtles’ favour. The whole nation is aware of what Terengganu is capable of when on-song thus the outcome of the match was a foregone conclusion. But Rafiuddin Roddin had other plans. He netted the equaliser before Albert Bodjongo scored to give Perak what seemed like an unassailable lead.

ipoh echo issue 143, Seladangs, Perak footballHowever, the sting came minutes before full time when Terengganu drew level through Hasmizan Kamaroddin’s goal dealing a blow to Perak’s bid for victory. A distraught Norizan Bakar was left speechless on the sidelines while manager Khairul Azwan Harun looked dejected.

“I’ve been seeing signs of it in our players, even from last year,” said Khairul when quizzed about complacency within the Seladangs’ ranks. “We played extremely well today but the players did not show enough desire to win the game comfortably.”

Complacency has beset the Seladangs on numerous occasions recently. Since the departure of Steve Darby, Perak tends to show signs of inconsistency, often failing to negotiate their opponents diligently. Perhaps the same issue is plaguing the team this season, if Khairul Azwan’s words are to be digested truthfully.

Comparing Perak to more accomplished teams like Kelantan and Terengganu isn’t logical because of the vast quality difference. But those two have set the benchmark for what Malaysian clubs can achieve and should, therefore, be an inspiration for the Seladangs.

Kelantan in particular, have been impressive with their grit on the pitch despite having to juggle between local and AFC Cup commitments. Nevertheless, their performance has been equally brilliant in all matches, something that is lacking in Norizan Bakar’s men.  Seven wins in 16 league matches is nothing to shout about. The pace of the game is definitely picking up. It’s about time the Seladangs up their tempo and match their rivals, man for man.

Football has always been labelled as the beautiful game. But behind that term is pure hard work, diligence, determination and the craving for goals. Norizan Bakar’s men have to show better maneuvering skills on the pitch. They ought to remember that complacency does not ensure success. It only brings misery.


Adios Popovic!


ipoh echo issue 142, perak football, seladangs, lazar popovicCompeting against the legacy set by Keita Mandjou and Carlos Caceres must have been a delicate prospect. But every Perak fan rejoiced when Lazar Popovic’s signing was officially announced by the Perak Football Association in January of this year. With Kubala, glimpses of the Krescka-Repasi combination so dominant during the 90s were expected from the Seladangs this year.

Perhaps the expectation was too much for Popovic. Yet nobody predicted that early on, with the Serbian proving his goal-scoring credentials during pre-season friendly matches. While Kubala took time to adjust, Popovic showcased his languid style effectively, suggesting that he was going to be a hit in the Malaysian Super League.

Perak’s luck with strikers was never dismal. When Frank Seator departed the team in 2004, the fear was that we would not be able to get a capable replacement. In came Keita Mandjou and the rest is history. Similarly, when Keita left, Chilean Carlos Caceres took on the mettle and continued with the legacy.

However, it hasn’t been the case with Popovic. Despite his towering presence upfront, the “Serbian Berbatov” failed to impose himself and often had to struggle to overcome the opposition’s defence. Michal Kubala was already proving to be a hit with his near-perfect set-pieces but the same could not be said of Popovic.

“We all know that Popovic is a good striker. He just needs time to prove himself,” Kubala enthused when asked about Popo’s hard luck. Perhaps time was just a variable in his situation. Or maybe, Popovic himself was a variable for Perak? Either way, a solitary goal in 15 Super League matches made him a liability for the Seladangs.

The April transfer came and the Serbian was shown the door. After weeks of rumours about the possible re-engaging of Keita Mandjou, who currently plays in the Indian League, Popovic’s contract was ended and another unknown forward was snapped up in the form of Albert Bodjongo.

Bodjongo’s arrival was kept under wraps, with not much information on him being leaked. However, it is believed that the 23 year-old former Doula Athletic Club striker has an eye for goals, something that Perak side is lacking thus far.

So it’s a beginning of a new dawn for the Seladangs. The FA Cup is no longer part of the agenda while Norizan Bakar’s men are too inconsistent in the league. The stage has been set for Albert Bodjongo to shine impeccably and inspire a revival in fortunes. Even though the Super League title is beyond reach, a creditable finish would create some good vibes ahead of the Malaysia Cup campaign in August.


Time to Buck up Guys


 ipoh echo issue 141, Perak football, SeladangsIt’s definitely not time for fans to hold candlelight vigils or hold mass protest outside the Perak FA headquarters. But the time has arrived for Perak to sort things out and perform. Three defeats in their last four games have seen them slip down the pecking order to seventh place in the league, behind the likes of Negeri Sembilan and T-Team FC.

It has always been maintained that this Seladang squad is moderate, but well capable of ranking higher in the league. After surrendering their unbeaten home record to Lions XII, the classy touch has gone from their style of play. The FA Cup win against ATM was a rather scrappy affair while their performance in the 2-2 draw with PKNS was subdued.

Nevertheless, the fans have plenty of hope for the team. It is a known fact that the Seladangs biggest chance for silverware would be the FA Cup. But predictably, they failed to dispatch Terengganu in the quarter finals last month. That poor form was carried into their next game where Kelantan outshone them in Ipoh, winning by 2-0 in the process.it hard to convert chances. However, they became a serious problem when Norizan Bakar’s men were thrashed 3-0 at home by Kedah. Perak were absolutely shambolic on the day, struggling to match Kedah’s hardworking squad, while also showing no real determination on the pitch.

Yes, Perak did secure a much needed 2-1 victory against Kuala Lumpur on  April 7, but Norizan Bakar’s men were back to square one after yet another 1-2 defeat to Lions XII four days later. The Seladangs showed glimpses of their impressive form against V. Sundramoorthy’s men, but failed to sustain it for the whole match. Expectedly, Michal Kubala was perhaps the only Perak player that showed initiative during the match, working hard in midfield and scoring the equaliser.

The cracks within their confidence are beginning to increase and the pressure from fans is totally justified. There is a significant difference between losing and being defeated with dignity. While there is still time for a revival in fortune, it’s about time the Perak players buck up and work harder. Donning a Seladang jersey isn’t just about playing football; it’s about pride and dignity.


Red Warriors Humble Seladangs


ipoh echo issue 140, football, seladangsThree months into the season, Perak has little to show in terms of prowess. Against a technically superior Kelantan side, the Seladangs were literally gasping for the proverbial air. Predictably, the Perak team succumbed to a disappointing 2-0 defeat on its own pitch here in Ipoh on Saturday, March 17. The score left them lingering helplessly in sixth spot.

Having lifted the Malaysian Super League title last year, the Red Warriors have remained true to form in 2012, in spite of several off-field controversies. Peter Butler left the team in February but the Red Warriors retained their solidity to sit comfortably at the top of the table. Bojan Hodak is being drafted as a replacement. Maintaining the same regime, Bojan has managed to keep the team intact thus far.

With such impressive performance, it would have been foolhardy to predict a loss. The manner in which Kelantan exposed Perak’s flaws was magnificent, to say the least. Ten minutes into the first half, the Red Warriors were already one up courtesy of a Nasril Nourdin fumble which saw Daudsu Jamaluddin netting the ball in spectacular fashion.

Norizan Bakar’s men barely made an impact from that moment on. Failee Ghazale, who made a surprise return to the Perak foil after a lengthy spell on the side-lines, failed to impress upfront. Even the charismatic Akhmal Rizal struggled to pull the strings on the offensive.

After a significant period of total domination for the away side, Bojan Hodak’s men eventually doubled their lead in the 24th minute. Zairul Fitri curled in a mesmerising free-kick, which eased past Nasril Nourdin into the Perak goal, as Kelantan threatened to run riot.

Nevertheless, the Seladangs fought hard and began to find their feet, as the game progressed. The second half was a much better period for the home side. Lazar Popovic carved out a few key opportunities with his languid touch but the rest failed to complement his efforts. Things became far too delicate for Perak as the minutes ticked away. The Kelantan team showed great resilience to keep its lead. Michal Kubala could have scored in the 90th minute but his shot rattled the bar, instead. Fans could only look in disbelief.

After a string of defeats the pressure is beginning to mount on the Seladangs. Popovic’s struggles, meanwhile, are not showing any signs of improving. It is time for a reality check for our home team.

And with the April transfer looming in the horizon, Perak needs to reshuffle ITS squad. Keita Mandjou is high on the shopping list.


Seladangs Struggle


ipoh echo issue 138, Seladangs, footballThe road to success for Perak is never going to be easy. Despite topping the league table after an impressive victory over Sarawak, the Seladangs’ luck ran out with successive defeats to T-Team in Kuala Terengganu and Lions XII at Stadium Perak.

What is the reason for the defeat then? It is not difficult to pinpoint the fault, actually. Poor performance is out of the question. The inability of Lazar Popovic to convert chances into goals is the one reason why Perak is so ineffective upfront.

The Serbian forward has not scored a single goal in seven outings and is under intense scrutiny from the fans. Ironically, there does not seem to be much effort coming from his side either. The issue with Popovic is not about support from his teammates but what lies deep within him.

Popovic was impressive during pre-season friendlies with confidence oozing from within him. His brilliance included a hat trick against USM FC in a friendly and helping to set up a few goals during the team’s pre-season tour of Indonesia.

So, the potential to shine is indeed there but Popovic has to fight a psychological battle with himself. His physical presence is already a big plus for Perak. Lions XII’s coach, V. Sundramoorthy, told Ipoh Echo after the home match last week that Popovic was a huge threat to his team.

His problem is identical to that of Chelsea’s Fernando Torres. For strikers, it is all about confidence. The Serbian forward showed glimpses of his capabilities in Perak’s victory over ATM in the FA Cup. After coming on as a substitute for the injured Akhmal Rizal, Popovic forced ATM’s goalkeeper to work overtime with his many brilliant moves. He has the aptitude.

The Seladangs now have a good respite before their next fixture against PKNS in the Super League. I feel the break will provide Popovic time to rest and to recuperate and, maybe, to revitalise himself. His teammates have indicated their willingness to give him the space he badly needs.

Obviously, Popovic is not experiencing a fanciful start to life with the Perak team. This explains why the Seladangs’ fans are rather hostile towards him. It is about time that he gets his act together. And with the April transfer looming closer, there is every reason for Popovic to show his worth.