Foreign players need to do more, says Felda coach
NEW Felda United coach B. Sathianathan did not mince words in describing the club’s foreign players as being no better than the locals.
Former national coach Sathianathan was disappointed with his team’s performance in a 0-0 draw with Kuala Terengganu TTeam on Wednesday — which stretched their winless run in all competitions to eight games.
It was Sathianathan’s second game in charge since replacing Azmi Mohamed at the helm of Felda, who sit second-bottom of the Super League standings ahead of today’s meeting with Sarawak in Jengka.
“We are very far from what I expected in terms of the fitness levels of the players and understanding of game plans. We are still far behind,” said Sathianathan in a candid assessment of the squad he inherited.
“The morale of the team is very low but the positive thing is that the players have not given up. They fought hard in the last two games which we drew but we have to start winning.”
Felda brought in three new foreign players this season in Argentines Gaston Cellerino and Lucas Cano and Lebanese defender Mootaz El Jounaidi while retaining Liberian playmaker Zah Rahan Krangar.
Sathianathan implied that the four players are playing for their futures ahead of the May transfer window and need to show they are better than the rest.
“In the Malaysian league, every team depend on the foreigners to make the difference,” said Sathianathan. “I hope that they improve because there is high expectations on them. But if they play like the locals, then what is the point of having them? The foreign players must be of quality.”
Krangar, with just one goal this year, has not hit the heights of last season when he scored eight times in the Super League as Felda finished runners-up to Darul Ta’zim.
Cano has scored twice but his appearances have been limited by injury while Cellerino has yet to get off the mark.
Only Al Junaidi has impressed Sathianathan but the centreback is suspended after being sent off against T-Team, leaving either Shukor Adan or Stuart Wark to partner Norfazly Alias at the back today.
With an AFC Cup fixture against Hanoi T&T to play in Shah Alam on Tuesday, Sathianathan does not intend to rest players.
“Mootaz has been outstanding in defence and we will miss his presence but there are others who can play in his position,” added Sathianathan. “We have another game on Tuesday but since we then take a break I will push the players in these two matches since we don’t have the strength in depth.”
While Felda have not won since beating PKNS in their first match of the season, Sarawak arrive at the Tun Razak Stadium looking to protect their unbeaten away run.
They have not lost outside Kuching this season, a far cry from their home form in the Super League after going down a third time at the State Stadium on Tuesday in a 2-0 defeat to Darul Ta’zim.