South Korean defender Park Yong-ho (left) is on trial at Armed Forces as the team try to find cover for their decimated backline. - Reuters
PETALING JAYA: Armed Forces’ back is against the wall, no thanks to the weak back-line due to the mounting injuries and suspensions.
But Forces coach B. Sathianathan believes there’s light at the end of the tunnel as he is set to acquire a South Korean defender to replace Australian centreback Spase Dilevski, who is out for the season with a serious injury.
To add to Sathianathan’s woes is utility player Fitri Omar’s decision to join Kelantan during the recent second transfer window.
“Two South Korean defenders – Park Yong-ho or Lee Jung-youl – have been attending trials with us since last Tuesday. We are going to sign one of them to bolster our defence,” said Sathianathan.
Besides Dilevski, Forces are also without centreback Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin and rightback K. Reuben. Both are down with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
Forces, who reached the Malaysia Cup semi-finals last season, are languishing in 11th spot in the 12-team league with just nine points after 11 matches after losing 1-0 to Kelantan in Kota Baru on Saturday. The Gladiators have the worst defence in the league, conceding 18 goals and scoring only 11.
The good news for Sathianathan is that talismanic striker Marlon James, last season’s Golden Boot winner, is set to return to action after recovering from a knee injury.
Sathianathan was also not happy with his players for picking up unnecessary bookings which resulted in a number of players being suspended.
“We had injuries and it was made worse by players picking up suspensions. We need to be much more cautious with the bookings,” said Sathianathan.
On the match against Kelantan, Sathianathan said: “The problem was our defenders were frustrated with our attacking players for not scoring goals. We had most of the possession but could not score the goals. It affected the team’s confidence.
“There were several positives as our President’s Cuppers and the reserves stepped up in the match. It’s a promising sign for the second half of the season.”