Nov 30, 2009
This game was an indication of the task they face. The home side had the majority of possession and were on the foot front for most of the 90 minutes but they were picked off twice just before half-time and then finished off just before full-time. It was a lesson in taking your chances.The first two goals were provided from the left by Ashley Cole. In the 41st minute, his cross was turned home expertly by Didier Drogba. On the whistle, Thomas Vermaelen miscued an attempted clearance into his own net.
Arsenal tried their best to respond in the second half but any lingering hopes were extinguished four minutes from time when Drogba thumped home a free-kick.It was a sobering afternoon for Wenger’s side, who now drop to fourth. Key injuries had undoubtedly hampered them but Arsenal’s pursuit of the Premier League crown will now be long and difficult.At the moment, their hopes of silverware appear to lie elsewhere.
Rain had hammered down in North London all day. It seemed that the Gods were doing their best to dampen the atmosphere for this utterly crucial game.They need not have bothered.The feverish press room flurry that met the publication of the team-sheets was as good an indication of this game’s importance as anyone might need.
Defeat for either side would peg back their respective title ambitions while a draw would let in Manchester United.Both managers had key players with injury doubts but, in the end, they all played. The swelling on William Gallas’ eye had gone down sufficiently for him to start. Wenger also recalled Armand Traore at left back – his problem position – and Bacary Sagna on the opposite flank. Eduardo returned to spearhead the attack.
As a result, Emmanuel Eboue and Carlos Vela dropped to the bench while the injured Kieran Gibbs was, of course, sidelined.For their part Chelsea welcomed back Frank Lampard to their midfield following a thigh injury. With Drogba having returned in midweek, the Stamford Bridge outfit were at the peak of their considerable powers.As Wenger had said in his pre-match press conference, this was the acid test for Arsenal.
The ever-confident Frenchman had also stated that “this was the time” for his side. And in the early stages, they proved him right.The opening quarter of an hour belonged to Arsenal. Cesc Fabregas had a shot blocked and Eduardo nearly wriggled through the centre of the Chelsea defence only to have the ball pinched from his toes.Although opportunities were rare, the home side were having all the possession and territory.
But, in fact, the visitors would carve out the first real chance of the game – and it had a whiff of controversy.Nicolas Anelka chased Lampard’s ball down the left-hand channel and went momentarily clear inside the area. Sagna was in close pursuit and the full back’s right arm appeared to knock his compatriot off his stride. The tumbling Anelka slipped over as he miscued his effort at Almunia then Lampard’s follow up went wide. Referee Andre Marriner waved play on and the majority of Emirates Stadium breathed a sigh of relief.
The opportunity seemed to pull Chelsea from their shell. Midway through the first half, Drogba nodded straight at Almunia when he should have done better and five minutes before the break he headed over.Arsenal still had an ample amount of the ball but they were creating only quarter-chances - little that would trouble Petr Cech.
Chelsea would make them pay.Twice.In the 41st minute, John Terry slipped a pass down the left-hand channel to Ashley Cole. The former Arsenal full back was allowed to put the ball on his favoured left foot and, when he whipped in a low cross, Drogba steered home a shot at the near post. The ball juddered between the angle of post and bar before deciding to go in, nonetheless it was ruthless football.You could argue that Arsenal did not deserve to be behind. But they definitely did not merit the second goal on the stroke of half-time.
Again Ashley Cole was the supplier but this time his low cross hit the knee of Vermaelen and went in the top corner off the woodwork once again.
Arsenal had to find a response and, at the break, Wenger did his best to provide it.
He withdrew Alex Song for Theo Walcott. The Englishman slotted in on the left-hand side pushing Nasri just behind Eduardo.It made a difference.Again Arsenal pegged back Chelsea in the early stages. They did get the ball into the net but by the time Arshavin had slammed home the referee has long since blown for a foul by Eduardo on Cech.
It was the Croatian’s last meaningful act. The 26-year-old was replaced by Vela.By now, Arsenal were pressing and persistent. However they just could not penetrate the meanest defence in the Premier League. In the first half, Chelsea had sat back, soaked up Arsenal’s pressure and then picked their pocket.
They so nearly stole a third goal just before the hour. Drogba tried his luck from the left of the area and the ball hit Gallas then Lampard before trickling to the right of the wrong-footed Almunia. The keeper recovered to make a brilliant save.In the 66th minute, Wenger threw on Tomas Rosicky, his last substitute, in place of Nasri. Still Arsenal had the play but Chelsea had the chances. Five minutes later, Drogba shrugged off Traore before whipping a cross that was just over Anelka’s head.
As the game neared its conclusion, Arsenal's challenge faded. Drogba had been Arsenal's main agitator this afternoon and, just to prove the point, with four minutes to go Fabregas brought down Michael Essien and the Ivorian rifled the free-kick beyond Almunia.
Having lost their top-scorer to a long-term injury on Saturday, Arsenal lost to one of their biggest title rivals the next day.It has been a tough, tough weekend at Emirates Stadium. ARSENAL.COM
Nov 24, 2009
REMEMBER the name: Elizabeth Lambert. The American girl has epitomised, through dirty play in a football match earlier this month, the reality of the world -- about how things are sometimes not what they appear to be.
She has shown, in split seconds of utterly bad sporting behaviour, everything about the dangers lurking around us and the deceptive, stealthy moments in life. We can connect that to Malaysian politics even.Lambert, a 21-year-old central defender for New Mexico in a local women's tournament in the United States, created quite a sensation all over the world when she was captured on video blatantly flooring her opponents in the match against BYU (Brigham Young University).
The footage of Lambert punching an opponent from behind, robustly tripping another and brazenly yanking an opposing striker's pony-tail till that player fell flat to the ground first made it to the news channels and was then viewed more than six million times on YouTube.This one has to be seen to be believed. The way she committed the fouls would make Malaysian football's notorious hotheads of yesteryear like Hassan Deraman, Manja Man and Wan Hassan Ibrahim appear like ballet dancers in comparison.The episode turned Lambert, who has since been suspended from playing, into a national villain. But in an interview with the New York Times last week, she said she was no monster.
"I think the way the video came out, it did make me look like a monster. That's not the type of player I am. I'm not just out there trying to hurt other players. That's taking away from the beauty of the game. And I would never want to do that."Well, that's life. Sometimes you get sucked into a moment of madness without even realising it and sometimes you get hit by a person or a situation you least expect.
It is the vulnerability of man. Apply that to Malaysian politics and it hits home. Look at what's happening in MCA where friends have become foes and where intrigues, backstabbing as well as unexpected turns rule the day. The similarity extends to the undercurrents in Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Pas and Umno.Relate that to a bigger football stage -- something wicked just came the way of Ireland and two North African nations.
It struck Ireland in a crucial World Cup qualifying match against France last Wednesday, that sucker punch coming through a highly dispu-ted French equaliser very late in the game that knocked out the Irish from the finals in South Africa next year.The French victory has created a firestorm around the world. Millions of viewers watched French captain Thierry Henry illegally guide the ball with his hand before kicking it to another player, who headed it in for the crucial goal.
The referee missed the infraction and since then, Ireland has exploded in anger, while France is roiled in an uncomfortable national debate over the nobility of accepting a tainted win.In a similar vein, this tale of the unexpected extended to yet another explosive pre-World Cup clash last week, where Egypt was bundled out after losing to Algeria. It even led to a diplomatic row as Egypt recalled its ambassador to Algeria following mob attacks on Egyptian fans after the match.It's a shocker because North African countries have never been known to be that volatile about their footballing fortunes, and demon-strations in whatever form or for whatever reason are rare in both countries.
So that's it again. Things are sometimes not what they appear to be.
And while on the subject of football, another stunner for most people was to find out that New Zealand has also qualified for the World Cup. Yes, that country where there are more sheep than humans and whose sporting fortunes have always centred on rugby and cricket. It will represent the Oceania zone after beating Bahrain from Asia in a playoff last week.
Now, if New Zealand can qualify, perhaps Malaysia needs to rethink its strategies in football. Maybe it should apply to leave Asia (Asian Football Confederation) where the competition is a lot tougher and join Oceania instead. Perhaps only then could the country join the ranks of World Cup qualifiers.But wait a minute.
The way football is being run in this country, even to be grouped with Antarctica would be a tough bet for Malaysia. In Oceania, there is also Fiji which is ranked higher in the Fifa listing (133rd as against Malaysia's 152nd).
And are we sure Malaysia, in its present standard, can beat Vanuatu?Despite a long tradition of football, Malaysia is far short of its potential as a football-loving nation and things are not what they appear to be, as there is a disconnect between the frenzy over foreign leagues and the national team.The solution is plain and simple -- the Football Association of Malaysia must change its leadership.
The president must go and the excuse that he has an unfinished agenda is unacceptable. For the glory of the country, Malaysians must demand a key performance indicator (KPI) accountability from FAM.Enough is enough. And so what if that's the monster in me speaking out.
Nov 19, 2009
"We need to strengthen the team and with these players I hope we will be able to achieve more success, it is important to have a balanced team. I am sure the players will give their best." said Sathianathan who met up with JAIHO during his trip to Kuala Lumpur
Akmal Rizal, who was once dubbed as a prolific striker lost his sting after a couple of injuries and operations. Akmal spent a couple of years with the Under-14 national squad which was then coached by Amin and Holger Obermann.
It was in 1995 and then 1997 when Akmal was roped into the World Youth Squad where his true potential was unleashed. His exposure in France and Germany will surely come in handy and the fact that Akmal decided to play for Kelantan is only a challenge for him to get a place in the national squad.
Shakir who played for UPB My Team is expected to revive his career in his home town. Norshahrul Talaha having played for Sathianathan when he was managing the national team, is also part of the integral plan in taking Kelantan to higher levels.
JAIHO hopes the investment made on the trio will bear fruit in due time.
Nov 15, 2009
Nov 11, 2009
Ahmad Shabery said FAM would be notified of the total damage estimated by the Bukit Jalil Stadium Corporation as well as the cost of repairing the damage caused by disappointed Kelantan supporters after their team lost 1-3 to Negeri Sembilan in the Malaysia Cup final.
Asked about suggestions to limit the number of fanatic supporters and those with bad records from entering the stadium, he said the move would be contrary to the concept held by the sports industry."The development of a sport is linked to spectators, and if we take stern action which makes it difficult for the public to watch, the sport will not do well," he said.
Ahmad Shabery said spectators bought tickets to help boost a team's revenue and the popularity gained could attract good sponsorship from private companies and broadcast rights, as was happening in the West.
Nov 8, 2009
The 'underdog' status clearly was not reflected in the game put up by the squad led by Wan Jamak Wan Hassan when they opened accounts as early as the 18th minute.Shahurain Abu Samah sent a powerful shot in the penalty box which beat Kelantan goalie, Mohd Halim Napi after an error by defender Mohd Zamri Ramli that sent the approximately 15,000 Negeri Sembilan supporters into frenzy.
Stunned by the goal, Kelantan raised the level of their game in front of at least 70,000 of their supporters by launching several raids that failed to break through the opponents' defence led by Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and Mohd Syukor Adan.
Negeri Sembilan too had several opportunities to widen their scoreline through Hairuddin Omar, who was on loan from T-Team, who had at least three chances to score but was foiled by Mohd Halim, and the 1-0 score ramained at half-time.In the second half, the 'Red Warriors' substituted two of their strikers, Horhisham Hassan and Mohd Nizad Ayub with Che Hishammuddin Hassan and Mohd Khalis Jamlus, who were more experienced.
However, Negeri Sembilan appeared to be the more fierce side with Hairuddin scoring the second goal in the 46th minute after breaking free from the Kelantan defence.In the 58th minute, Negeri Sembilan confirmed their victory when national striker Mohd Zaquan converted a penalty kick after Shahurain was brought down in the box.
The goal prompted a large section of the Kelantan supporters to leave the stadium with some of them burning flags, banners, chairs and letting off firecrackers.The Red Warriors' lethal striker, Indra Putra Mahayuddin eventually scored for Kelantan in the 93rd minute (extra time) after taking the free kick from outside the penalty box, thus emerging as the top scorer in the Malaysia Cup series with 11 goals.
Commenting on the match, Wan Jamak said the early goal was certainly needed by any team playing in the final and Shahurain succeeded in achieving it."The goal would determine the direction of the team and could immediately change their rhythm of play," he told reporters after the match.
The former national coach said the Negeri Sembilan players had proven that they had the resilience and mental strength to face the thousands of their opponents' supporters."I was certainly confident of victory based on the previous matches played by the team in the Malaysia Cup competition but I did not want to be over-confident," he said, adding that he was proud of the Negeri Sembilan record as the only team who had never lost in the Malaysia Cup matches.
Meanwhile, Kelantan coach B.Sathinathan said the second goal scored by Negeri Sembilan had broken the spirit of his players.Meanwhile, a Kelantan supporter was detained on suspicion of attempting to start a fight after the game.A police spokesman said the incident occurred at about 12.05am at the Bukit Jalil LRT Station.It was learnt that the man, in his 30's, tried to provoke the Negeri Sembilan supporters. The suspect was taken to the police station for further investigation.-- BERNAMA
Nov 6, 2009
Indeed, this Malaysia Cup is special for both teams. Read Eric Samuel's preview here.
For me personally, it is a great moment for two former national coaches. I had the privillege to know Wan Jamak who worked with me in the corridors of FAM and Kelantan Coach B.Sathianathan whom I have known for years. Wan Jamak resigned after the 1997 loss to Laos.
These two coaches are unique in their own way, they know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. I hope it will be an interesting final, a final that will send a message out reinforcing that football in the country is very much alive and 'kicking', and not in the pits.
This inspiring video is dedicated to Wan Jamak and Sathianathan, who went through misery and challenges during their times in FAM. All the criticism that was directed at them, is coming to fruition today.
To the players, this is time and moment to fight for every inch on the field.
JAIHO will be at the Stadium seated among the Kelantanese fans in his Malaysian Jersey.
Nov 5, 2009
Thailand’s top soccer players will feast on free burgers as part of a three-year sponsorship deal with American fast food giant McDonald’s worth almost US$900,000, the country’s soccer president said yesterday.
McDonald’s will provide 25mil baht (US$747,000) for the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) and will offer 5mil baht in products in exchange for shirt sponsorship for the next three years, starting this month.
“This will be a great help towards our efforts to reach the 2014 World Cup Finals,” FAT president Worawi Makudi told Reuters.
“This funding will help develop our game, especially youth football, and all the players, junior and senior, will get to enjoy the food too,” he added.
Thailand’s national team, who are currently 110th in the FIFA rankings, signed a five-year kit sponsorship deal with US sports giant Nike in 2007 for an undisclosed figure.
The team have never qualified for the World Cup Finals and are now being coached by former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson
Meanwhile, Sweden, Poland and Denmark will play in next year’s King’s Cup tournament with hosts Thailand, a local newspaper reported yesterday.
The four countries will contest the annual round-robin tournament in the northeastern Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima from Jan 17-23, the Bangkok Post quoted Worawi as saying. — Reuters
Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby also scored for the Gunners at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal lead Group H with 10 points. Despite the loss, AZ still has a chance to qualify from its last two matches because second-place Olympiakos lost 2-0 to Standard Liege.
The Dutch team has two points, Olympiakos has six and Liege has five.
"It was a brilliant performance because we dominated our subject technically, tactically, and overall we never felt under threat," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "We played with the needed confidence. Overall, I'm very happy."
Fabregas' weak shot in the 25th minute should have been stopped by goalkeeper Sergio Romero but beat him at the near post. Romero seemed surprised by Fabregas' shot and was slow to dive to his right, barely getting his fingertips on the ball. "The first goal our goalkeeper can do something more with that shot," AZ coach Ronald Koeman said. "But he (Fabregas) is a fabulous player."
Fabregas' first goal spurred AZ into action and the Dutch side pressed the ball further up the pitch. Maarten Martens surged forward in the 30th minute with a good run, but his shot was easily caught by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia - his first save of the night. Two minutes later, midfielder Brett Holman fired a shot from distance but the ball swerved wide.
Arsenal's second goal came just before halftime when Nasri collected a throughball from Andrei Arshavin. The France midfielder shrugged off a defender and curled a low shot past Romero, who again got his fingers to the ball. It was Nasri's second appearance in all competitions this season since returning from a broken leg he sustained in preseason training.
Fabregas scored his second in the 52nd minute after AZ conceded possession and Arshavin's throughball found the Spain international, who curled a shot over Romero. AZ nearly scored five minutes later when Graziano Pelle latched onto a deep cross and his shot from close range struck the crossbar.
A quick counterattack led to Arsenal's fourth goal, after Eduardo da Silva's backheel flick found Arshavin. The Russia international blazed down the right before squaring a pass to Diaby on the left who fired a shot past Romero.
AZ pulled one back in the 82nd minute on a counterattack, with second-half substitute Jeremain Lens firing a low shot past Almunia.
"In the first 25 minutes, I thought the organization of the team was quite good," Koeman said. "But in front of goal we weren't able to do much.
It was the first time that Koeman lost to Arsenal in six matches dating back to 2003. In 2007, Koeman was manager of PSV Eindhoven when it eliminated Arsenal from the first knockout round of the Champions League.
"I don't think we'll qualify for the Champions League, but if we win two more games it's possible - it's not impossible," Koeman said. "It's very clear in the next game against Olympiakos we have to win."
Nov 4, 2009
K. Devan who guided Selangor to the Charity Shield, FA Cup and Super League titles in his debut season, walked away with the Best Coach award while Selangor capped a superb season by winning the Best Team award.
"It is an incentive for the people of Kelantan to go and support the team in Bukit Jalil. As for the players and officials, the state government will bear the cost of their Umrah package and also provide cash incentives for making it to the final," he told reporters here Wednesday.Kelantan made it to the final after beating Perlis 5-1 on aggregate after a 2-0 home win in Kota Baharu and a 3-1 away win in the second leg at the Utama Stadium in Kangar.
The last time Kelantan qualified for the Malaysia Cup final was in 1970 but lost 0-2 to Perak.This time around, Kelantan will meet a resurgent Negeri Sembilan who demolished Terengganu on a 4-1 aggregate."We hope that with the next day declared a holiday, fans will not rush back home but take their time and drive slowly and carefully home," he said. - BERNAMA
Nov 3, 2009
State Executive Councillor and Kelantan Stadium Corporation chairman Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan would announce the reward tomorrow after the state executive council meeting at Kota Darulnaim, he told Bernama last night
when contacted in Kuala Lumpur where he had attended the meeting of the Conference of Rulers.Kelantan or "The Red Warriors" have yet to win the Malaysia Cup since the inception of the competition in 1921. They made it to the Malaysia Cup final in 1970 but lost 0-2 to Perak.Negeri Sembilan last won the cup in 1948.
The final will be played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.-- BERNAMA
Nov 2, 2009
He said among the conditions infringed by the teams were failure to settle outstanding salaries of the players and remit their Employees Provident Fund subscriptions until the deadline on Saturday."So we have decided that they are not qualified to take part in the leagues next season," he told reporters after chairing the FAM Local Competition Committee meeting at Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil here Monday.
Che Mat, however, said the fate of the six teams would rest with the FAM Council meeting to be chaired by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah soon."The competition committee's decision, which was based on the stipulated rules, would be submitted to the FAM Council," he said.If the council endorse the decision, the Super League will be left with 11 teams next season from 14 teams this season while 10 teams will compete in the Premier League compared to 14 now."If the Super League is down to 11 teams, FAM will invite another team from the Premier League to join the Super League to bring the number of teams to 12."
We have also accepted requests from UPB-MyTeam and Proton FC to withdraw from the Super League and the Premier League respectively," he said, adding actions on the two teams would be decided later.On the 100PLUS-FAM National Football Awards 2009 on Wednesday, he said Selangor was adjudged the best managed club, Johor FC (the best club) and KL Plus (of having the best fan club).
On the Malaysia Cup final between Kelantan and on Saturday, Che Mat said tickets were priced at RM20 for adults and RM5 for children below 12."We have printed 85,000 tickets, of which 30,000 were booked by Kelantan and 20,000 more by Negeri Sembilan."The remaining 35,000 tickets will be on sale at Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil from 11 to 10pm on Friday and from 10am on Saturday," he said,
The following teams qualified for Super League 2010: Selangor, Perlis, Kedah, Johor FC, Terengganu, KL Plus, Harimau Muda A, Negeri Sembilan, KM Naza, Johor and T-Team.The Premier League 2010 will be made up of PDRM, Kuala Lumpur, ATM, PKNS Selangor, Sabah, KL Felda United, KL Pos, Perlis KSK Tambun Tulang, Harimau Muda B and Sarawak.-- BERNAMA