Filepic shows Chilean Nelson Martin (left) when he was a Kedah player in 2011. He now plays for T-Team in the Super League.
GEORGE TOWN: Super League basement side T-Team will turn to their playmaker Nelson Martin for inspiration in their attempt to rise off the foot of the standings.
The Chilean midfielder has been declared fit to take on Sarawak in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday after recovering from a hamstring injury.
The 34-year-old Martin, who joined T-Team from Kedah this year, only featured in the club’s 1-0 opening day loss to Selangor on Jan 18 before getting injured in training.
“Nelson’s return is a huge morale booster for the squad as we missed his presence in midfield. His strength is in creating scoring opportunities for the forwards and I believe his return will help us move up the table,” said T-Team coach Mohd Azraai Khor on Friday.
“We may be at the bottom right now, but we are not far away from safety. All the teams are bunched close together and one or two wins will get us into a comfortable zone.”
Martin played an instrumental role in the engine room for Azraai when they were both with Kedah during the northern state’s double triple success in lifting the Super League, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup titles in 2007 and 2008.
Besides Martin, T-Team’s other foreign players are Brazilian duo Fabio Flor (defender) and Evaldo Goncalves (striker), and Indonesian Patrich Wanggai (striker).
Azraai is also feeling bullish ahead of the Sarawak match as T-Team have yet to lose at home this year.
Their two previous league appearances at the Sultan Ismail Stadium ended in a 1-0 win over Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and a 2-2 draw with Armed Forces.
“We have always done well at home, so we can expect another good performance against Sarawak. After overcoming the injury problems and working on our weaknesses during the international break, it is now time for T-Team to start collecting points and move up in the standings,” said Azraai.
“The fixtures list was not kind to us as we faced the big guns Selangor, JDT, Terengganu, Armed Forces and Kelantan in the first five matches. We have some breathing space now and this is the time to start showing everyone our true capabilities.”
Only six points separate the 12th-placed T-Team from league leaders Terengganu, who are not in action Saturday as their match against Selangor has been postponed to May 4.
Sarawak, who were placed bottom after starting the season with two straight defeats, are currently third on nine points after notching three successive wins.