PETALING JAYA: Armed Forces coach B. Sathianathan is confident his new signing Norshahrul Idlan Talaha will find his goalscoring touch this season.
Norshahrul, who won the M-League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times from 2010-2012, suffered a slump in form after joining Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) from Kelantan in 2013.
The 28-year-old striker, fondly known as Mat Yo, only scored 10 goals from 41 appearances for the Southern Tigers from 2013-2014.
The 57-year-old coach pointed out that although Norshahrul scored only one goal in the AFF Suzuki Cup competition, he had shown glimpses of his former self.
Sathia, who was instrumental in Norshahrul’s rise as one of the deadliest strikers in the country when he coached Kelantan in 2010, said his former protege is just rough around the edges.
“I think Norshahrul’s confidence is back after a good showing in the AFF. He has improved a lot with the national team after a dismal season with JDT,” said Sathia.
“He just needs more time to gel with his new team-mates. And with former Kelantan team-mate Hairuddin (Omar) in the team he should find his scoring touch again.”
Norshahrul is expected to be paired up with Honduran World Cupper Jerry Palacios, Nigerian Abdulafees Abdulsalam and Hairuddin for the Gladiators.
Sathia said that the Football Association Malaysia’s (FAM) decision to postpone the Super League to February is a boon although the rainy weather has hampered their pre-season preparations.
“We have a longer period to prepare the team now and we will head to Bangkok from Jan 21-26 to play against Thai Premier League teams,” said Sathia.
“We are in the midst of converting centreback Amirizwan Taj Tajuddin and attacking midfielder Abdul Shukur Jusoh into defensive midfielders. We need to test various combinations so the tour will be important for us.”