Monday, January 25, 1999

Passion after the pain (The Malay Mail)

LEAVING Kuala Lumpur hurt K. Ramachandran but the defender is looking
forward to a whole new life with Pahang.
Ramachandran, 26, came through the KL development programme to skipper
the M-League side.
But after six years, the former international fell out of favour with
coach Mat Zan Mat Aris last season. He was not among the five senior
players recommended to be retained for this season.
And when the Pahang offer came, Ramachandran took it.
"It was a difficult decision because all my playing career has been with
KL," said Ramachandran, who moved to KL from Taiping.
"I put in 10 years and felt I still had a few more years of good soccer
to give KL.
"So, I was really disheartened when there was no place for me in the
"I am grateful to Pahang for giving me this opportunity."
It was Pahang's assistant coach, Fuzzemi Ibrahim, who asked Ramachandran
to attend trials with them last month.
After watching him for a week, Pahang agreed to take him on.
Ramachandran signed with Pahang at the beginning of this month after his
contract with KLFA expired on Dec 31.
"It is a new challenge for me and I am taking it seriously.
"I am flattered Pahang want me and I am determined to repay their
confidence in me.
"There won't be that familiar feeling and I will work hard to adapt to
all the changes," said Ramachandran.
Ramachandran is looking forward to his first session with Pahang's new
coach Alan Davidson.
"I played against him several seasons ago and now he will be coaching
"It's exciting as I have always admired Alan as a defender and I am sure
he will help make me a better player," said Ramachandran.
Davidson played for Pahang in the M-League from 1991 to 1996.
Ramachandran will also be seeing changes in his personal life.
He is getting married to Seetha on Feb 7 in Kuala Lumpur.
Ramachandran will be back in training for the new season after a short

Saturday, January 23, 1999

Sara to make good (The Malay Mail)

place in the national team after missing the boat the first time.
The son of a kacang putih seller is determined to work for a place in
the Malaysian team to the Dunhill Cup starting next week in Vietnam.
After the initial disappointment ob being excluded from the national
team for the recent playing tour of UAE, Saravanan has pledged to put in
extra effort to impress coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim.
For the Ipoh-born Saravanan, who turned 21 on Jan 11, a ticket to
Vietnam will indeed be a great, albeit, belated birthday present.
He said: "I am grateful to coach Abdul Rahman for considering me for the
Dunhill Cup after my withdrawal from the team earlier this month because
of food poisoning.
"Missing out on the Dubai trip could have been very costly because the
coach was finalising his squad for Vietnam during the tour.
"I am lucky to be given a second chance. In fact, I was told by the
coach to be prepared for a recall on his return from Dubai.
"I hope to make the final squad this time," said Saravanan.
Saravanan, who has had enough disappointments since being dropped from
the Olympic 2000 squad late last year, said: "Coach Hatem (Souissi) had
his reasons for doing so and I have to respect it.
"The national call-up provided some consolation and I want to make it
meaningful by making the final squad," said Saravanan.
The 23-strong national training squad will be cut to 18 on Tuesday
before they leave for Ho Chi Minh City the next day.
Besides Saravanan, the others eyeing places upfront are G. Shanmugam,
Yusri Che Lah, Mohamad Nor Derus and Zami Mohamad Noor.
Saravanan, who featured in the World Youth championship in 1997, hopes a
credible performance with the national team would earn him a recall for
the Olympics qualifers in June.
The seventh in a family of eight boys and a girl, Saravanan turned out
for the Perak Youth team in the 1995 Coke Cup before getting selected for
the Olympic 2000 squad.
Though his 58-year-old father, Velu, has never played soccer, he
produced three footballing sons.
Saravanan's eldest brother, Arumugam was a Negri Sembilan midfielder in
1995 and 1996 while his younger brother, Karannan, is Perak Under-18
"I want to make my father proud by making it to the national senior
team," said Saravanan, who played a major role in Perak winning the
Malaysia Cup this season.

Thursday, January 21, 1999

Raja: Arrangement fine by me (The Malay Mail)

CARETAKER coach K. Rajagopal is prepared for the eventuality he may not
get to handle Selangor this season.
And he is not disturbed by news that the Red Giants may sign an English
The FA of Selangor have plans to let an Englishman take charge of the
team for three weeks at the end of the month and possibly make him their
Selangor team manager Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad announced on Tuesday a former
England international who has coached in the English Premier League and
Div 1 will be at Shah Alam.
Although Mokhtar did not reveal his name, it has been speculated the
coach is former Nottingham Forest and England striker Trevor Francis.
Rajagopal said yesterday: "I was fully aware of it when I agreed to be
an interim coach."
He said the understanding was he would be the acting coach for two
months first.
"My two-month contract with FAS ends on Feb 28," said Rajagopal whose
last involvement with Selangor at senior level was as assistant to Ken
Worden in 1995.
"Under the contract, I am to be informed of my position at the end of
next month. I could be offered the post of coach or assistant coach.
"I was also told the Raja Muda of Selangor was keen to have a foreign
coach. I am prepared to work under a foreign coach and hopefully learn
from him.
"I have also told FAS I am ready for the M-League and there have been
offers to coach other teams," said Rajagopal who attained his FAM A
Licence in 1992 and last year earned a German `A' Coaching Licence.
"If Selangor feel they need a foreign coach, I can deal with that. But
if they ask me to handle the team, I am also prepared for it.
"I just want to contribute to Selangor," said Rajagopal who has five
Malaysia Cup winners medals with Selangor from 1978-1984.
Rajagopal, who coached the Selangor Reserve League team the past three
years, said the M-League side will resume training tomorrow and play a
friendly against the national team.

Monday, January 18, 1999

Cold and hot: P. Saravanan - not up to the mark (The Malay Mail)

IT was not a happy return to Malaysia on Saturday for Kuala Lumpur sweeper
P. Saravanan (right) after the national team's impressive playing tour of
the United Arab Emirates.
Upon landing in Kuala Lumpur, Saravanan was told by national coach Abdul
Rahman Ibrahim that he was not required to rejoin the team on Thursday for
That dashed Saravanan's dreams of making his international debut for
Malaysia in the Dunhill Cup in Vietnam later this month.
Though disappointed, the 25-year-old admitted he did not perform well in
Dubai where the young national team played three friendlies.
In the first match, Malaysia lost 2-0 to FC Ventspils of Latvia with
Saravanan only coming in the last quarter of the game.
The lanky Saravanan started among the first 11 in the second match
against Al-Ahli FC and played for about 75 minutes before he was replaced.
Malaysia triumphed 4-3. He did not play in the final match against Al-
Shabab which Malaysia won 1-0.
Saravanan, who has played for the national Under-18 and Under-19 youth
teams under M. Karathu and Richard Bates, said: "I was not at my best
during the tour.
"I had problems playing my role as I was up against experienced players.
I was not commanding enough and probably that's the reason I have been
left out."
Saravanan probably found it hard to cope with an unfamiliar system that
required him to play with just two other defenders due to a five-man
Saravanan said Rahman told him that although he was not in the coach's
plans for the Dunhill Cup, he will be called up for future national
training from time to time before the Brunei SEA Games.
"Of course, I am disappointed to have been left out. But I have gained
much from the national stint and the UAE tour was certainly a good
experience for me as we played against fast opponents."
The exclusion of Saravanan should pave the way for Khairul Anuar Baharum
- the other sweeper used in the UAE stint - to feature in the Dunhill Cup.
Rahman also has another option in B. Rajinkandh although he is being
used as a midfielder.