They have a player who graced the 2010 World Cup, a national striker known for his trickery, a supportive management and an experienced coach who weaved his magic with both the national side and Kelantan… So why the slow start for Armed Forces?
I rate the Armed Forces as one of the best sides in Malaysian football.
After a rough campaign last season, coach B. Sathianathan has brought in reinforcements.
In came former Kelantan centre-back Obinna Nwaneri, Honduran forward Jerry Palacios, former Perak forward Abdulafees Abdulsalam and former Terengganu midfielder Mario Karlovic.
He also brought in Malaysian international Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, former Perak goalkeeper Razi Effendi Suhit, versatile defender Azmeer Yusof, combative midfielder Abdul Shukor Jusoh and nippy winger Fazrul Hazli Kadri.
The team seem to have the artillery but they appear to be drawing blanks. They only have a paltry point after four games into the season.
Palacios, having played in the 2010 World Cup was heralded as the man to replace the indomitable Marlon James but he does not seem to exhibit the predatory skills of the former St Vincent and Grenada international.
Norshahrul meanwhile seems to have brought over last season’s disappointing form from Johor Darul Takzim and the national team.
Karlovic is recovering from an injury while Abdulsalam is still taking his time to gel with the team.
Veterans like Hairuddin Omar, Norfazly Alias and Fadzli Shaari were meant to steady the ship but their advancing years seems to be catching up on them.
All these factors have contributed to the team’s slow start and many are expecting Sathianathan to face the sack soon.
I however believe that the coach knows what he is doing.
In Armed Forces’ last match against Terengganu, the team fought back to draw 2-2 at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.
Palacios showed character in that match and pushed his teammates to play better. Sathianathan needs him and Hairuddin to spur the team forward.
He will also be looking at players like K. Rueben and Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin, who spent a lot of time on the sidelines last season due to injury.
Rueben is injured again but he is in rehabilitation right now and based on his Instagram posts, he seems to be fighting hard to get back on the field. With this kind of determination, you can see why Sathianathan rates the former Malaysian U-23 player highly!
After three defeats and one draw, the team’s morale will surely be low but Sathianathan will certainly be pushing his players to do their best.
Perhaps, the players should listen to Inilah Barisan Kita before matches. They must feel the words of this meaningful song!