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 We will be one of the challengers in 2015, says Satianathan

JERRY PALACIOS stands out as the big name in the Armed Forces as the Super League survivors revamped their side for the 2015 M-League with depth in all departments.

The 33-year-old Honduran international will be the key man for the soldiers who have off-loaded several other big names to be one of the challengers for major honours in the new season.

Coach B. Satianathan got his “complete set of players” this month although training began in November. The latest to join Armed Forces’ training is national striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, who has left 2014 Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT).  

Mat Yo – as the Terengganu-born Norshahrul is known in the football fraternity – is said to have taken a pay cut to leave cash rich JDT to save his international football career which looked doomed at one stage due to “lack of playing time” with the Southern Tigers.

Norshahrul was given a life line by national coach Dollah Salleh and played a key-role for Malaysia in the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup. Malaysia finished runners-up to Thailand after losing 4-3 on aggregate – a creditable showing as many had written off Harimau Malaya as no hopers in the biennial championships.

Among the new signings in Armed Forces are Niegerians Obinna Nwaneri (defender) and Andulafees Abdulsalam (striker) and Australian midfielder Mario Karlovic – all no newcomers to the M-League having played for Kelantan, Perak and Terengganu respectively this season.

Armed Forces have parted company with their Argentine hitman Bruno Martelloto who will play for Premier League outfit Negri Sembilan next season. Also released are Argentine Juan Manuel Arostegui and Fabrice Noel from Haiti.

Former international Rezal Zambery Yahya, an influential midfielder who often wore the skipper’s armband team during the absence of Hairuddin Omar, is also out of the team for the new season and will don Negeri Sembilan colours.

Without doubt Norshahrul is the “big catch” for Satianathan who has been with the team since 2012 although he was strongly linked with Selangor for the 2014 season.

It was a season of ups and down for Satianathan as he battled long term injuries to key players. Armed Forces barely survived relegation – staying afloat on goal difference to finish 10th in the 12-team Super League.

For the 2015 season Armed Forces had planned a three-match playing tour of Thailand at the end of this month. However, with the M-League kick-off postponed, Satianathan is now planning a playing tour in January.

Palacios comes from a family of football playing brothers. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa, the Palacios brothers – Jerry, Johnny and Wilson created history as the first trio of brothers to play for a country in the World Cup.

“I have more depth in every department for the new season….and we should be one of the challengers in 2015.

“Norshahrul is a prized catch and it is a reunion of sorts. We have worked together before. I first brought him into the national (Olympic qualifiers) and I know what he has in him as a footballer,” said Satianathan.

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