Perak order match-fixing probe, suspend team

MALAYSIA - Perak officials and staff have been suspended for two weeks by the Perak FA over suspected corruption following a string of defeats in the Malaysia Cup.

The Seladang had collected seven points in their first three Group D matches, but lost their last three games and were eliminated from the competition.

Perak FA vice-president Khairul Azwan Harun told Malaysian reporters yesterday a report was to be lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police regarding suspected sabotage and corruption in the team's last four Malaysia Cup games.

These included three straight losses - a 2-1 away defeat by LionsXII, losing to an injury-time goal at home to Kedah and the improbable 6-1 thrashing at Sarawak last Saturday.

Khairul Azwan said: "We have also set up a task force headed by Perak FA disciplinary committee chairman Datuk Ismail Saffian to investigate what we dread all this while.

"They are given two weeks to carry out the investigation and report the findings to the Perak FA main executive committee."

Perak staff and players will be required to report at the Perak FA office every day during the suspension starting tomorrow.

Khairul Azwan added that the players had not been suspended.

Coach Azraai Khor Abdullah told The New Paper an investigation is the right move if the authorities felt something was amiss.

When asked if he noticed anything suspicious, the 60-year-old three-time Malaysia Cup champion was cryptic in his response: "Come on, you have been in this line for so long, you can see for yourself what is going on.

"I'm disappointed with the results. In many games this season, we haven't performed. We could also have qualified for the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals, but didn't.

"Things can't go on like this. I think it's appropriate that, once and for all, there is a thorough investigation to get rid of whatever is wrong in the sport."

Perak had not conceded six since a 6-0 drubbing by Kelantan in July last year.

But last Saturday, the Crocodiles led 3-1 at half-time, including two goals in the first eight minutes.

By then, the Seladang had already lost skipper Shahrulnizam Mustapa through injury and their two-metre Brazilian centre back Rafael Souza was also replaced.

"I was frustrated by his performance. He was guilty of putting his interests first before the team," Azraai told The Star.

Yet, Sarawak coach Robert Alberts said he saw nothing suspicious in Perak's play.

The 58-year-old Dutchman told TNP: "Big defeats happen in football. Even Manchester United can lose 4-1 to City, but nobody will question them.

"I looked at the players' reactions and I didn't see anything wrong. It was just a bad day at work.

"They were trying to play the game but we were too fast for their defence and exploited their weaknesses."

LionsXII skipper Shahril Ishak preferred to keep his focus on his team's campaign and said: "I can say that everyone at LionsXII is making an honest living.

"It's unfortunate and sad that each time such an investigation comes up, it seems that our game is involved. But we can control only what happens in our team, and we will continue to try our best to get to the Malaysia Cup final."

Last year, the Football Association of Malaysia banned 18 President's Cup players for two to five years while a former Negeri Sembilan youth coach was given a life ban for match-fixing.

A Fifa investigator had confirmed in an exclusive interview that the LionsXII had played against some of the suspected corrupted teams last season.

Terengganu had three former internationals investigated while Malaysian referee Shokri Nor was charged in Singapore for accepting a bribe to fix the result of a Malaysian Super League match.

Former Malaysia Cup winners Kuala Lumpur and several other teams are among the second-tier sides being investigated this season.

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