SATHIANATHAN UNIM­PRESSED

For­eign play­ers need to do more, says Felda coach

New Straits Times - - Sport - RE­PORTS BY DEVINDER SINGH devinder@nst.com.my

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.

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