Perak's new signing Abdulafees Abdulsalam challenges for the ball during the match against JDT last month in Ipoh. - BERNAMA
GEORGE TOWN: Perak coach Abu Bakar Fadzim attributes his team’s change of fortune in the Super League to the mid-season hiring of four key foreign personnel.
The arrival of strikers Abdulafees Abdulsalam and Milan Purovic, midfielder Marco Tulio and team adviser Karl Heinz Weigang coincided with Perak registering back-to-back wins over Terengganu (2-0) and Armed Forces (2-1) to move off the foot of the standings.
More importantly, the team also scored as many goals in those two matches as their combined total from the first 13 league matches.
Although Perak are still a point away from safety, Abu Bakar believes that his team have turned the corner and should escape relegation through the remaining seven matches.
“Before the mid-season shake-up, our main problem was in scoring goals. Being unable to find the net placed more pressure on the defence to hold out, and we ended up losing to late goals several times,” said Abu Bakar on Wednesday.
“Based on our last two matches, the goal drought has ended with the hiring of the three attacking players. Getting my sifu (mentor) Weigang on board was also a good move by Perak as he has vast experience in Malaysian football. I am delighted to be working with him again and we can already see the squad’s overall improvement on the pitch in the short time since he joined us.”
Abu Bakar had played under former national coach Weigang when the German led Perak to two Malaysia Cup triumphs in 1998 and 2000.
For their next game against high-riding Kelantan in Kota Baru on Saturday, Abu Bakar has instructed his players to keep the winning momentum going.
“With the goals flowing again, the morale of the players has improved tremendously. It is important that we keep the momentum going by gaining at least a draw, or a victory, in Kota Baru.
“We are not out of the danger zone yet, but based on our performances in the last two games, I am confident of surviving the drop. We still have seven games to save our season, and we will go all out in every match to overtake the teams directly above us.”
Perak will travel to Kota Baru without injured first choice goalkeeper Razi Effendi Suhit and influential midfielder Hardi Jaafar. Both players suffered knee injuries during last Saturday’s victory over Armed Forces and will be out for at least two weeks.
Four teams are now in the tussle to avoid being the bottom two sides that will be relegated to the Premier League next season. Besides Perak, who are second to bottom on 13 points, just one point ahead of Armed Forces, PKNS (14 points) and T-Team (16) are also in danger of going down.