Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bangkok win must mean end of 4-4-2

The win in Bangkok have many meanings - including the most important which is the Lions Asian Cup hopes are in it own hand - one of which must be that national coach Raddy should give up on the 4-4-2 in my humble opinion.

Since the Suzuki Cup defence back in December 2008, Raddy Lions have been using the 4-4-2 formation and one cannot claimed the results were not forthcoming as the Lions march to the semi-final of the Suzuki Cup and defeated Jordan in ACQ with both goals coming from the two centre forwards - Agu Casmir and Noh Alam Shah.

However, the Lions fell at the semi-final to Champions Vietnam and then lost to the Thai last week showcased the weakness of the Lions in a 4-4-2 formation.

Quite frankly, other than Khairul Amri, the Lions lacked the type of players to play on the flank of a 4-4-2 formation as they either lacked the speed like Shahril Ishak, who have the ability, or do not have the crossing like Ridhuan, who have the speed.

This mean the full back cannot move up as the midfield flankers are not pushing back the opposition midfield.

This limit the Lions attack and worse is the crosses from the flank then have to come from an area that is of little danger to the opposition defence in the penalty box.

At the same time, our own central midfielders have to work harder for the opposition midfielders have little fear from any counter as they know the Lions cannot push up.

So, in the end, it is no surprise the long ball become the favourite weapon of the Lions since the Suzuki Cup and yet it was not the case back in June 2008 or before that when the Lions saw Raddy used the 4-5-1 system during the WCQ campaign.

As written in the article - Suzuki Cup: Only the crown will do – the Lions were playing a football that was pleasing to the eye and getting the results as seem with the 4-0 thrashing of Palestine and double victory over Lebanon.

So one may asked why Raddy gave up on the formation before the Suzuki Cup.

I cannot claim to be Raddy but I believed it was the loss of one man from the East.

No, it is not Khairul Amri, who was injured before the Suzuki Cup opener, but I believed it to be Qiu Li, who is playing for Tampines Rovers.

Are you surprised?

Not really, if one looked at Raddy substitution in the WCQ as Qiu Li replaced Duric as the lone striker every time.

Also, the other forwards in the Lions ranks are renown to be better players with two upfront with both Noh Alam Shah and Agu Casmir - the other two physical players with the build to play as a lone forward - showing their best form at their clubs sides playing with another forward.

That why the Lions went 4-4-2 at Suzuki Cup as Duric went out in the opener with an injury and Qiu Li could not play until January 2010.

After that, Raddy had to continue using the 4-4-2 as Duric was not fit for both Iran and Jordan games but with Qiu Li coming back next year, the Lions have to go back to 4-5-1 as performances and especially results show 4-5-1 is the way to go for the Lions.

This way we can deploy the one or two of the 3 central midfielder positions to be on flanks or joined the centre forward upfront to push back the opposition and the Lions fullback can be pushed up especially now, with SAFFC Shaiful Esah expected to be a regular with the Lions and he is an extra weapon that the Lions should develop further.

Of course , it mean Noh Alam Shah and Agu Casmir will have to step up and compete with the Stags forward (and hopefully proved me wrong that that they cannot played at their best with another centre forward) for the main position upfront.

This way, the Republic will then have the depth to play 4-5-1 for the foreseeable future as Duric is surely retiring after the Asian Cup Finals in Qatar and we cannot have just one who can play the lone striker role.

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