Inconsistent Perak to rely on discipline to take them to final

Mastermind: KL’s Shahril Saabah (left) tries to dribble past Pahang’s Mohd Arif Syafie Ishak during the Razak Cup Group D match last week. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Perak are the obvious favourites in the semi-final clash against Kuala Lumpur in the Razak Cup but their inconsistency is making them feel uneasy.

Yet, they somehow managed to stay unbeaten up to the quarter-finals. In the group stages, they started with a 3-3 draw with Johor, then beat Sabah 2-0 and were held 2-2 by Selangor to finish tops in Group B with five points.

In the quarter-finals, they downed Perlis 2-0.

And for the semi-finals, captain Sukri Mutalib believes that a disciplined performance would see them qualifying for the Razak Cup final for the 10th time.

“In the beginning, we were not sharp but we have been improving from game to game. Our defence is getting better and we are much compact in midfield now. From the veterans to the youngsters, everyone is playing with discipline, ” said the former national captain.

“Honestly, I have not watched any of their (Kuala Lumpur) games to know their strengths and weaknesses. I know they have several national players.

“They have Shahril (Saabah), Norsyafiq (Sumantri) and Hafizuddin (Othman). Also, former internationals like Ramadan (Rosli), Norhizzat (Sumantri) and Joel (Samuel van Huizen). Their core is good, and that can affect us. And they have Shahril, who is a good penalty corner hitter.

“To win this game, we have to score and defend well. Players will have to remain disciplined.”

Perak manager Prof Madya Dr Norkhalid Salimin said players from both sides have played against each other before, so whoever controls the midfield will win.

“Our penalty corner conversion needs to be a bit more reliable. Against Sabah, we had five but could only convert one. So that has to improve.

“We struggled in the beginning, but our cohesion and chemistry are getting better. Let’s hope we get into the final, ” said Prof Norkhalid.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur’s Shahril said he is not satisfied with his performance even though he has scored five goals in four games.

“I missed a lot of chances in the D-Box. I need to be sharper and clinical. As we all know, Perak are the favourites in this tournament every year. They have experienced players and talented youngsters. We’ve to be careful when playing them. They are a balanced side.

“All players have to be 100 per cent committed, ” said Shahril.

Kuala Lumpur manager Sukhjit Singh said his team had performed well throughout the tournament and their work rate has been excellent.

“We require 100% commitment from everyone in the team to match Perak. The strength of the KL team is our unity and teamwork, and not forgetting we have one of the best coaches in our team – S. Selvarajoo.”

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