Slim loss is bonus: ATM coach Sathianathan

Slim loss is bonus: ATM coach Sathianathan
B. Sathianathan, ATM coach.

SINGAPORE - He is the bogeyman who inflicted a defeat that still haunts LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy to this day, but ATM tactician B. Sathianathan is in an unusually defeatist mood ahead of the teams' Malaysia Cup first-leg, quarter-final clash.

"A 0-1 defeat at Jalan Besar Stadium is a bonus," the 55-year-old told The Straits Times. "If we can prevent defeat, it will be a massive bonus as I'm confident of turning it around in the return leg (Oct 4)."

Saturday's showdown will be the perfect opportunity for the hosts to exact revenge for their Malaysia Cup semi-final exit last season, when ATM equalised in the seventh minute of stoppage time to level the aggregate score 2-2.

The Malaysian military side then went on to win the penalty shoot-out 5-4 after Shaiful Esah, Baihakki Khaizan and Yasir Hanapi missed their spot-kicks.

But an injury crisis has dampened former Malaysia national coach Sathianathan's optimism.

ATM wingers Venice Elphi and S.Thinagaran and overlapping right-back K. Reuben are injured, while centre-back Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin and left-back Irwan Fadzly Idrus are not match fit.

On Thursday, Argentinian playmaker Bruno Martelotto was declared a major doubt after pulling his groin muscle.

"We are really below strength and, frankly, we are coming to Singapore not to concede," Sathianathan added.

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