Coach Harris not losing sleep over prized striker's dry spell

  • Other Sport
  • Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003

PETALING JAYA: National football coach Allan Harris in unperturbed over striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli's poor scoring rate for Kedah in domestic competitions. 

Akmal has scored only four goals – one in Kedah's 1-3 defeat by Selangor Public Bank in a FA Cup first round match on on Feb 19 and a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Kelantan in Premier I on April 5. 

Harris said that he had faith in Akmal's ability and could count on the striker to deliver in Malaysia's pre-Olympic campaign. 

“I can count on Akmal anytime. He has played for me before. He is experienced and has played at a higher level. He has regained his confidence, scoring a hat-trick recently,” said Harris. 

The Englishman wil put Akmal to test in a friendly match against Pahang at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan tonight. 

Malaysia have a first-round bye in the Olympic qualifying tournament. They will play the winners of the match between Turkmenistan and India in the second round. The first-leg match will be played in Kuala Lumpur on May 3 and the return match is scheduled for June 7. 

Harris said that his plans had already been affected by the current situation in the world – the war in Iraq and the spread of the deadly illness, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

The national Under-22 training squad were scheduled to go to Bangkok for a two-match playing tour from April 15 to 21 but had to cancel their plans due to the SARS threat. 

Attempts to bring the Thais here have also drawn a nought, leaving Harris with no choice but to test out his boys in friendly matches against M-League teams and the visiting Jordanian national team here on April 25 and 28. 

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