Football: Stags coach Sundram wants to beat Selangor in their backyard

Footballers Nazmi Faiz (left) and Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh of PKNS FC, at a training session on 26 May 2013, ahead of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) match against LionsXII to be held at the Jalan Besar Stadium on 27 May 2013.
PHOTO: The New Paper

It's Selangor versus Tampines Rovers tonight in the AFC Cup Group E; the most successful Malaysian club against the most star-studded Singapore side in the S.League today.

The Red Giants sit pretty atop the Malaysian Super League (MSL), unbeaten after three games, although they fell to a shock 3-1 defeat by a Safuwan Baharudin-powered PDRM FA in the FA Cup last weekend.

The Stags themselves have yet to taste defeat this season. They are third in the S.League, three points behind leaders Albirex Niigata.

Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy wants to claim bragging rights by beating the 33-time Malaysia Cup champions in their own backyard at the Selayang Stadium.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Sundram said: "Everybody can say whatever they want about who are the bigger team.

"What matters is the result at the end of the 90 minutes. The rivalry between the two countries goes a long way - during my playing days, during Samad Allapitchay's playing days before me (in the 1980s and 1970s) and in Majid Ariff's playing days before him (in the 1960s and 1970s).

"The boys want to achieve a result over a Malaysian team."

But the Dazzler, as he was known during his playing days in the 1980s and '90s, has warned his players of the threat posed by three Red Giants attackers: An African "Ronaldinho", a South American bad boy, and Mighty Mouse.

Ronaldinho is the middle name of Selangor's Liberia striker Patrick Wleh, who is in red-hot form with five goals in his first three MSL games.

MIGHTY MOUSE

Then there's Argentinian striker Mauro Olivi, who once had a restraining order handed against him by a former girlfriend; the 32-year-old scored in Selangor's first AFC Cup match this season, against Philippine side Ceres la Salle.

Finally, "Mighty Mouse" is the nickname given to 1.62m-tall Indonesian winger Andik Vermansyah, the pocket dynamite who is practically uncatchable once in full flight and who also packs a mighty shot.

Sundram, who coached Singapore side LionsXII to the MSL title in 2013, said: "They have Patrick, we know him very well of course (the striker has played in Malaysia since 2012). He's a big, strong boy, the targetman of the team, so we have to watch him.

"Olivi plays as a second striker and is mobile, so he'll be a threat also. And everybody knows Andik Vermansyah and the danger he poses.

"Those three, together with the local boys like R Gopinathan and Nazmi Faiz, will be a handful.

"But we will come up with a tactical plan to organise ourselves and make sure we can handle whatever they will throw at us and, at the same time, we want to capitalise in some other areas."

Whatever his plan is, Sundram chose to keep it close to his chest.

He played with a three-man defence instead of his usual four in a move that worked a treat in the Stags' opening AFC Cup game against Bangladeshi side Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi at the Jalan Besar Stadium when they ran out 4-0 winners.

The 50-year-old coach said: "It's nice to be back in Malaysia with a Singapore side and it brings back memories of me taking the (LionsXII).

"At the press conference, the Malaysian journalists welcomed me and asked what my team are like, and what we want out of the game.

"Tomorrow's game will have a good atmosphere, at a good stadium, and the fans will come.

"Now it's up to us to get a result over the 90 minutes, so we can hopefully reach our target of reaching the last 16 of the AFC Cup."


This article was first published on March 8, 2016.
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