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Wednesday February 1, 2012

Kedah raring for action

THE Kedah football team will begin their 14-week long tussle for President Cup honours with a home match against Te-rengganu’s T-team tomorrow at the Darulaman Stadium, and four days later on Feb 6, they will take on Police in an away match.

Bring it on: The Kedah players posing with the team officials before a light workout at the Darulaman Stadium in Alor Setar.

The first round in the prelimi-nary stage will finish on March 19 and the second round will resume after a 10-day break on March 29 with another home match against Penang.

Kedah will round up their preliminary round matches on May 25 with an away match against Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School in Kota Tinggi, Johor.

Kedah are drawn in Group A with 12 other teams and will be engaged in 24 home-and-away preliminary round matches.

After the home-and-away matches, the top four teams in the group will join another four teams from Group B for the quarter-final knockout stage.

Kedah deputy team manager Azami Amat said the players had undergone a systematic training programme including physical, mental and skills training for the past month.

Getting ready: The team warming up with the balls before their friendly match against the Kedah Super League at the Darulaman Stadium.

“During this period, they were also engaged in friendly matches culminating with a match against the Kedah Super league team. They also played nine friendly matches including one against a youth team in Songkhla.

“We were able to rectify the weaknesses of the team during the friendly matches and the players are motivated to perform well this year.

“Out of the nine friendly matches, the team won four, drew two and lost three including one against the Kedah Super League team,” he said.

Prepping up: The boys doing some limbering exercises before the friendly match.

Azami added that the team had a number of players from last year’s squad like chief striker Hattaphon Bun An, Lew Han Hung, Mohd Aminuddin Azmi, Wan Mohd Asyraf Ali and Mohd Fitri Zaaim Amran who will form the core of the team.

“On paper, we have a formidable team but I am also aware that the other teams like defending champions Kelantan, Sabah, Johor and Sime Darby are capable of upsetting our plans.

“Our initial target is a top four placing in the round robin league and anything beyond that will be a bonus. The tournament is a long drawn out affair and all our plans can come to nought with injuries and suspensions of key players,” he said.

“The team’s performance in the first period of the preliminary round will be a good indicator of how we will finish the season. I hope they will live up to their pledge of one for all, all for one,” he said after watching the team go through a light training session at the Darul-aman Stadium in Alor Setar.

Last year, Kedah finished a lowly eighth out of 11 teams in the group with just five wins and four draws from 20 matches, scoring 20 goals and conceding 29.

This year’s team are handled by Mohd Taufiq Cheng Abdullah (chief), Izham Mustafa and Zulkifli Ismail (goalkeeper). Kedah won the President Cup in 2000 and 2003 and were semi-finalists in 2010.

The Kedah squad: Firdaus Che Ani, Zurika Muzafar Zulkifli, Mohd Farhan Aswad Badrisham, Hatta-phon Bun An, Mohd Ridzuan Rumlee, Mohd Helmi Akmal Eran, Anond Chim, Faiz Mohd Bandong, Mohd Shaaban Roslan, Abdul Halim Saari, Wan Mohd Asyraf Ali, Mohd Rijal Fiqry Yusoff, Mohd Akmal Chin, Osman Yusoff, Lew Han Hung, Mohd Arfan Rashid, Mohd Khidir Ahmad Muzafar, Mohd Aminuddin Azmi, Mohd Syamim Alif Sobri, Mohd Fitri Zaaim Amran, Wan Mohd Syukri Ahmad, Mohd Shazuan Ashraf, Mohd Fazrul Fazilah.

Team officials: Datuk Jeffrey Low Han Chau (manager), Azami Amat (asst manager), Mohd Taufiq Cheng Abdullah (head coach), Izham Mustafa (asst coach), Zulkifli Ismail (goalkeeper coach), Mohd Nasir Othman (kitman).