Zainal set to gamble with untested striker


  • Other Sport
  • Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005

BY S. SIVABALAN

PETALING JAYA: After the failure of Cameroon striker Bakoback Albert Fils and English midfielder Richard Hodgson two weeks ago another Cameroon striker is set to make his debut for Pahang tonight against Selangor in the FA Cup first round in Shah Alam tonight. 

It's a risky gamble for Zainal Abidin Hassan – Bernard Tchoutong has only been on trials for the past four days – but it's a gamble the Pahang coach is willing to take since his boys have been too predictable upfront lately. 

There has been too much reliance on Indra Putra Mahayuddin, who lived up to his top billing by scoring five goals in five matches. 

Indra, however, needs back-up. His partnership with Fils was a big letdown against Perlis in Kuantan two weeks ago in their fourth Super League match. 

Against Public Bank, Zainal paired Azizul Kamaluddin with Indra and it didn't work either. 

Zainal is now throwing the dice with Tchoutong. 

“The match against Perlis was our first match together. It was hard to communicate with Bakoback,” said Indra. “He can hardly speak English and we just couldn't combine well. If Bernard is given a chance to play, I hope we can combine better. 

“Of course, there will be a lot of pressure on Pahang to perform against Selangor. Selangor are no second-rate team. They have so many good players in their team. So, it's going to be an uphill task. 

“I know I will be a marked man. But that is not an excuse for me not to score. Pahang, too, have a lot of depth and there are other players capable of finding the net,” added Indra. 

Zainal had Tchoutong put through a late training session last night to further evaluate the player and improve match fitness. 

“We have been picking up the pieces since our 0-1 loss to Perlis two weeks ago,” said Zainal. “Solutions need to be found fast, we need to be consistent to improve our current position.  

“I am not looking at experimenting too much. As usual, only our best players will be playing in every match. 

“As for Bernard, he has been with the team for the past four days and I can't say for sure if he is going to be in the starting line-up. 

“After compiling all the information during sessions, I will make a late decision on him,” added Zainal. 

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