Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Exciting Kunalan Returns
PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan are hitting top gear and coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah is grinning from ear to ear.
The defending champions started off with a lacklustre 1-1 draw with Felda United in their opening Group C match but proved their title aspirations by whipping Sime Darby 4-0 in their second match on Saturday.
Negri and Felda are now the front runners to go through to the next round as Perak and Sime Darby FC have only one point each.
Azraai, who led Negri to their third Malaysia Cup success last season, said it was still too early to talk about the quarter-finals as they have to beat Perak at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi tonight.
“Nothing is assured yet as we need to beat Perak first before thinking about the quarter-finals,” said Azraai.
“It will be a tricky match but we need to seal the points. Perak are wounded tigers after having lost their last match. We must maximise our home ground advantage,” said Azraai.
Negri’s on-loan midfielder K. Thanaraj will miss the match through suspension after collecting two yellow cards but crowd favourite S. Kunalan will be returning after serving out a two-match ban.
Cameroonian striker Jean-Emmanuell Owona, who bagged a hat-trick against Sime Darby, will once again spearhead the attack with on-loan striker Khairul Izuan Abdullah.
Azraai believes that if his team follow the game plan, they can retain the Cup.
“The team have been playing to instructions and if they continue to do so, it is possible for us to win the Cup again,” said Azraai.
“Owona is really in form and his partnership with Khairul is clicking. Kunalan’s return to the team also strengthens our defence, so I can say that we are in a good position.”