BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
It was always tough for PKNS FC to rebound for a heavy thrashing away from home in just 72 hours and thus it showed during their 1-1 draw against Penang on Saturday evening. It didn't helped matters when the referee chopped off Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh's goal in the final minute of the match and for reasons beyond the understanding of head coach, E. Elavarasan.
"We lost a golden opportunity with that penalty miss. Luckily Patrick scored with that header. In the second half, both teams looked tired. I’m not sure the second goal is offside and I’m not sure how the referee can overruled it."
"I think that was controversy at the end. When I asked the referee, he said “deliberate save”. What is “deliberate save”? I cannot understand that word. It’s new to me. We accept the result but we want to see that again," said Elavarasan in the post-match conference.
PKNS had taken the lead in the first half through Wleh's header but were pegged back by a combative Penang side in the second half. In a match where his PKNS side struggled to impose themselves on the match, Elavarasan opted to change Nazrin Syamsul for P. Gunalan midway through the second half in a more defensive move that he felt the team needed.
"We were still tightening up when we put on defensive players because at the time we were on the defensive. Only in the last five minutes when we put Bobby in, we tried to go for the win. That was the risk we were taking," explained Elavarasan.
The midfield selected by him was a knocked-on effect of the result in Kuantan. Despite Nazrin's solid start to the season, Elavarasan wanted to have more steel in the midfield and thus push Nazrin to a wider role with Nizam Abu Bakar selected to be the screen in front of the defence.
"I looked at the record of the games we’ve played. When Nazrin was playing centrally, we were good on the attack but defensively we were quite loose. That’s the reason we put Nizam there to tighten the midfield a bit. It worked but the weather took its toll on the players today," added Elavarasan.
With no games until after the international break, it also represent a chance for PKNS to get a few more bodies back fit and ready before the league resumes on 8th April with a match against
"For us, it’s a good break. We will get Guru, Affize [Faizal], Fauzan [Dzulkifli] back by then. When we resume, we’ll have our midfield back," said Elavarasan.
That said, Elavarasan doesn't shy away from the fact that having seen his team in action through eight rounds of matches thus far, that he needs better options in midfield and that is the area of the pitch that he will look to strengthen come the mid-season transfer window.
"If we want to improve further, we need to make changes. We need to improve the quality. Definitely our midfield side need to be improved. At the moment, we are patient," explained the coach.
With the draw, PKNS sits in 9th spot, just a point outside of the relegation zone.