Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Premier League : Plus points for the Highwaymen


Adrian Dario Trinidad came in February but already scored 8 goals for KL Plus FC.

IF there are no major breakdowns and no tolls to negotiate, KL Plus’ journey to the destination will be completed on cruise control by May 2.

The Highwaymen swayed around hairpin turns on a road strewn with boulders throughout the season. Now the end is near. The path is clear.

They have reached the homestraight.

Plus lead the Premier League by two points but they cannot afford to take their foot off the accelerator, knowing full well nearest rival, Kuala Muda Naza are two points adrift but with a match in hand.

On Friday, coach Mat Zan Mat Aris and his men travel to Petaling Jaya for the rendezvous with PKNS.

Two weeks later they meet Kuala Lumpur before they entertain Kuala Muda Naza, of all teams, at Selayang Stadium on May 2.

The tie could well determine the destiny of the championship. Plus lead the table on 53 points, followed by Kuala Muda Naza at 51 and Kelantan at 47 points.

So the harrowing part of the journey is far from over.

“We can’t run away from the challenge. It’s the final lap and we have to remain focused. Physically and mentally we have to be up to the task,” said Mat Zan.

The former Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian international has crafted a team modelled after his philosophy.

His team may lack the big-names but they are big in heart and effort, very much in Mat Zan’s mould for he was known to be a tireless worker and respected for his work ethics during his playing days.

“In a team that has no stars, everybody plays for each other. This has been my philosophy from Day 1,” said Mat Zan.

Working within an estimated budget of RM3 million, Mat Zan’s emphasis has always been on consistency and endurance.

With an average age of 23.5 years, Mat Zan began to work the kinks out of the team early in the season.

“The target set by the management early in the season was for the team to earn promotion to the top flight. We are almost there.”

Central to Mat Zan’s plans are defenders Nazrul Erwan Makmor and Hairul Nizam Haniff, with midfielder Reeshafiq Alwi providing stability in the middle of the park.

The trio were tasked to shift down a gear if needed, or increase speed as and when required.

S. Sumindran was brought from City Hall and has been Plus’ crucial component behind their emergence.

Argentine Adrian Dario Trinidad came in February to complete the three-man foreign quota – Alex Agbo and Tercio Nunes were the two original ones and they wasted no time to launch a three-pronged assault with Nunes tasked to supply the killer ball.

Nunes however may miss the PKNS encounter on Friday after undergoing appendectomy.

Mat Zan paid tribute to the Plus management for their constant moral encouragement, which in turn has yielded the desired result.

“Once the welfare of the players is well-taken care of, Plus players have little to worry but to deliver the three points on a weekly basis.”

Mat Zan has never felt the thrill of lifting a league title. And he is waiting to end the wait.

“The nearest I came to lifting the title was in 2001 when we finished second,” said Mat Zan.

Other than that, the showcase remains threadbare.

He guided Terengganu to the Malaysia Cup title in 2001 and the FA Cup with Kuala Lumpur in 1999 but the league, definitely, will give him a different sensation.

Resource from


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