Thursday, April 19, 2012

In safe territory

DYNAMIC DUO: Felda riding high with three straights wins after arrival of Curier and Viator

Felda United’s Mohd Nizad (left) celebrates with teammate Mickael Antoine-Curier in their 4-0 win against Kuala Lumpur last Friday.

THREE wins on the trot has lifted Felda United clear of the Super League relegation playoff zone, allowing coach E. Elavarasan to breathe easier after claiming city bragging rights by completing a double over Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
After a 5-1 hammering by Kelantan in Kota Baru on March 31 left Felda second-bottom, Elavarasan would have been justified to fear for his job but the arrival of French-born Guadaloupe internationals Mickael Antoine-Curier and Eddy Viator has led to a stunning turnaround.
Striker Antoine-Curier scored on his debut in Felda's 2-0 win over Kedah, set up two goals in a 4-0 hammering of KL before grabbing the winner in Tuesday's 1-0 return fixture against KL as Felda climbed to 10th in the table, one point clear of Sabah and Kedah.
Viator has added steel to the defence, linking up well with fellow centre-back Abdul Ghani Rahman as Felda has yet to concede a goal since the defeat to Kelantan.
"Mike (Antoine-Curier) is a team player, he's comfortable on the ball and he gives 100 per cent in every game," said Elavarasan after the match at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca.
"Eddy has only played two games as he was not ready for the Kedah match but he has fit into the team well as he showed in the two games against KL. We have won three games in a row now and we hope to keep the momentum going.
"But we were a little fortunate to win against KL today (Tuesday). It's always tougher to play a team the second time so soon after the first game. We were also not very well coordinated as I made a few changes."
These changes included the return of Hardi Jaafar and Firdaus Faudzi from five-game suspensions while M. Sivakumar filled in at right-back for the suspended Nizam Abu Bakar.
Felda's next match is against Super League leaders LionsXII on May 8 in Malacca while KL are resigned to their fate having extended a club record for the longest losing run in the league to 10 games.
The lack of a killer touch was KL's downfall, as the missing final pass often ended the team's build up play with Afiq Azmi having few chances to threaten the Felda goal.
With automatic relegation a near certainty for Razip Ismail's side after just one point from 14 games, KL have opted to play their remaining home games, with the exception of the May 15 tie against LionsXII, on opposition ground in order to boost revenue from the gate.
KL and Felda have been playing their home games in Malacca as the KLFA Stadium's damaged pitch awaits action by City Hall, almost a year after KL played their last home game in Cheras.

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