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15/09/2011

Beckham Malaysia makin dikenali

KLIK DI SINI UNTUK TERJEMAH....


Football correspondent Steve Tucker reports on Cardiff City’s interest in Safee Sali - ‘Malaysia’s David Beckham’
WALK anywhere in Kuala Lumpur and there’s a good chance you might see the face of Safee Sali beaming down.
The name might not mean anything in British football but in Asia they don’t come much bigger.
In fact, Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock described Sali as “the David Beckham of Malaysia”.


Warnock should know as Rangers were linked with Sali before Cardiff City stole a march in the race to sign the free-scoring striker by taking him on a two-week trial.
Of course, Cardiff and Rangers have Malaysian owners – the big-spending Tan Sri Tony Fernandes having just taken over at Loftus Road – and it could be argued that signing Sali is a crude marketing ploy.
A PR stunt of Premier League proportions?
Imagine the interest in Malaysia in their top player plying his trade in British football.
There would be a few replica shirts in it, that’s for sure – much to the delight of Bluebirds billionaire backer Vincent Tan and chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee.
But is there more to Sali than a marketing man’s dream? Well, his goal record would suggest so.
The 27-year-old is regarded as the best Malaysian marksman of his generation with 16 goals in 31 international outings to prove it.
With goals, come cash. Sali was the face of his previous sponsor Adidas across South East Asia and is currently tied up to Nike.
The sports giant have paid him the ultimate accolade of supplying him with his own named boot.
That has raised Sali’s profile on the international stage and there has also been reported interest from Bundesliga clubs in Germany.
But after flying into Cardiff on Monday, Sali – who currently plies his trade at Indonesian Super League side Pelita Jaya – was remaining modest about the prospects of playing in Britain.
Sali described his opportunity to impress manager Malky Mackay at Cardiff as “the chance of a lifetime” and is just hoping to make a good impression in the Welsh capital.
“It all started when Cardiff contacted my agent about the arrangement,” Sali told a Malaysian newspaper.
“When my agent told me I was in a state of shock.
“I didn’t believe it at first, thinking it was a practical joke.
“Then my agent had to reassure me that it was for real; that Cardiff City was really interested in having me on board for a two-week stint.
“It slowly sank in and naturally, I was elated over the whole matter.
“When things were finalised I told my wife and she too was in disbelief, but she and my whole family were very happy about the whole news.
“I’m still very happy and really excited but I do have several concerns, one being my old knee injury.
“I’m praying that I will be fit and well throughout my time there.
“Language too will be an obstacle. But I hope I will be able to adapt quickly and make the best of my opportunity.
“I know some people may treat this trip lightly, but to me, being called up for trials with the first team is already an honour.
“Deep down inside I am bent on impressing them. Perhaps this would help market my capabilities in that region.
“I know I’ve been linked to the Bundesliga, too. A good showing in Cardiff would surely help me secure something in Europe.
“But I don’t want to be seen as being too far-fetched, so for now I’m just going to enjoy myself by playing good football.
“I’m thankful, it is certainly a chance of a lifetime.”
One thing that cannot be disputed is that Sali certainly knows where the net is.
During his club career in Malaysia, he scored an incredible 110 times in 138 appearances for various clubs.
At his current Indonesian employers he has continued where he left off with seven goals in 13 appearances.
Mackay is certainly in the market for an extra striker to boost his attacking options.
The starting partnership so far this campaign has seen Robert Earnshaw paired up top with Kenny Miller.
Young Frenchman Rudy Gestede has made a number of substitute appearances in the league, but, along with Joe Mason, is currently seen as too inexperienced.
Burly frontman Jon Parkin does not appear to figure in Mackay’s plans and was close to moving to Coventry recently.
With the loan window now open Mackay has confirmed he is looking to add new faces.
But even with Premier League sides having named their 25-man squads, experienced options for the Bluebirds look limited.
“It is a small pool you have to fish in of who the Premier League clubs would like to loan out,” said Mackay.
“Even among that there is criteria like wages that are astronomical or youngsters who are not ready to play in the Championship yet.
“So there’s a small band and I would imagine about 15 clubs in this league are looking for them – and we’re one of them.
“We certainly need a little bit of strength-in-depth if we are going to make it through a 46-game league season.
“We need strengthening in every area.”
At 5ft 8ins, Sali barely fits the bill of the strong forward presence that Cardiff are crying out for. But, with his trademark turn of pace and deadly finishing, he could yet add another dimension to Cardiff’s play.
One thing is for certain, if Sali can impress over the next fortnight then life at Cardiff City might never be quite the same again.

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