Friday, 7 February 2014 | MYT 7:49 PM
Azraai urges team to move on from JDT incident
A file picture of T-Team coach Mohd Azraai Khor. Having collected just three points from their first three matches, T-Team are bottom of the league standings.
GEORGE TOWN: The T-Team players have been urged to put aside all thoughts and feelings about the past week’s incidents when they play Armed Forces in the Super League on Saturday.
T-Team are embroiled in what has been dubbed the “tunnel fiasco” after refusing to come out for the second half of their FA Cup second round match against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) following a half-time bust-up at the Larkin Stadium last Saturday.
The Terengganu club side cited fear for their safety as the main reason for not continuing with the match.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) competitions committee on Thursday awarded JDT a 3-0 win and a place in the quarter-finals, while the brawl is still under investigation.
T-Team coach Mohd Azraai Khor held a meeting with his players in Kuala Terengganu immediately after returning from the FAM hearing in Petaling Jaya.
“Everyone was disappointed with going out of the FA Cup this way. I had a talk with the boys and told them the decision has been made and there is no point moping about it. They have to forget about everything that has happened and move on by focusing on the Armed Forces game,” said Azraai on Friday.
“We cannot allow the off-field proceedings to disrupt our preparations. I believe my players will be mentally stronger and more mature on the pitch after the Larkin ordeal. This is the time for everybody to support each other, and I want to see the proof in our performance tomorrow.”
Having collected just three points from their first three matches, T-Team are bottom of the league standings.
Azraai knows that nothing less than a win is needed at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday to lift not just the team’s spirits, but also their position in the table.
“There is still a long way to go in the league, and there is nothing much to separate all the teams now. But we need to start collecting points or risk others pull away from us.
“T-Team had a tough opening fixtures list (meeting Selangor, JDT and Terengganu) and Armed Forces are no pushovers either. They have had a shaky start but I know their coach (B. Sathianathan) is very experienced and will re-organise his team well to face us.”
Armed Forces bounced back from their 1-0 setback against PKNS to defeat Perak by the same scoreline last week.
The only injury casualty for Azraai is his Chilean midfielder Nelson Martin, who has yet to feature for T-Team this season.
“Nelson is close to recovery from his hamstring problem, but I don’t want to risk him breaking down against Forces. There is a three-week break after next week’s matches, and I prefer Nelson to be 100% fit and ready before he sees action.”
The 33-year-old Martin played a pivotal role as the playmaker for Azraai when both were with Kedah’s double-treble winning teams in 2007-08.