* Three match playing tour of Thailand – Armed Forces win one and lose two
* Christie injured again
* Time against Satianathan for opening match against Kelantan
Armed Forces returned home from a three-match playing tour of Thailand – losing two and winning one – but head coach B. Satianathan is keeping his cool despite defeats and injuries to Christie Jayaseelan and Affizie Faisal Mamat – before they kickoff their 2015 season with a ‘home’ match against Kelantan at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on Feb 7.
Christie who missed half the season last year suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury but Satianathan believes that the right winger’s
injury is “no cause for alarm” but Affize’s ankle injury sustained after the team’s return from Bangkok rules him out of the Kelantan match.
Armed Forces played three matches in six days in Bangkok – losing 4-2 to Bangkok United and 3-2 to Pattaya United and won 2-1 against Thai Navy.
“Christie was coming on fine and scored two goals on the tour but playing three matches in six days took its toll. His suffered a recurrence but I am not too worried as this time around we have depth on the bench,” said Satianathan, who used the tour to test his players.
“Three matches in six days tested the players and their fitness. It gave me an indication as to who will start against Kelantan. The tour also enabled me to adopt the right tactical changes need to be made when the need arises.”
One thing that stood out on the tour and pleased Satianathan was the “work ethics” of the players.
“I am impressed with the work ethics of the players…this year’s squad is better balanced. There is depth. I know who can stand in as a cover. The tour was also an exposure for various combinations I tried. Jerry (Palacios) has settled well and his combination with Norshahrul is “very positive” while Hairuddin (Omar) and Shukur (Jusoh) are the key players in the engine room.
Armed Forces have signed striker Adulafees Abdulsalam, defender Obinna Nwareri (both Nigeria), Australian midfielder Mario Karlovic apart from Honduran international Palacios. Also in the stable is national striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha who played for Johor Darul Takzim the last two seasons. Terengganu-born Shukur played for Selangor last season.
“I have one week to do the correction before we face Kelantan. Some shortcomings were exposed on the Thailand tour and we will work on this,” added Satianathan who had high praise for his evergreen skipper Hairuddin Omar despite his age. The Terengganu-born former international is 35-year-old.
Armed Forces barely survived relegation to the Premier League last season – finishing 10th in the 12-team Super League.