Hectic fixture list taking its toll on Maniam's men

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Selangor boss P. Maniam has faith in his reserve and young players, with two matches remaining before the domestic competitions take another break.


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Although Selangor have been one of the best-performing Super League sides since the seond stretch of the 2017 season began, the hectic fixture list is starting to take its toll on head coach Maniam Pachaiappan's men.

The Red Giants, as well as other M-League clubs that have also qualified for the Malaysia Cup, have played in nine matches since July 1. Maniam's men have recorded six wins, two draws and one defeat, a marked improvement over their inconsistent record earlier in the season. They are also leading Group D in the Malaysia Cup with two matches left.

Their 3-2 win over Terengganu in their Malaysia Cup group match last Saturday, which secured them an early passage to the quarter-finals, however was paid with a heavy price. Spanish forward Rufino Segovia aggravated his injury scoring the last-gasp winner, and he is set to miss their next two matches this week. 

He came on in the match as a second half substitution, after having missed three matches previously.

"A lot of the players are injured, Amri [Yahyah], Andik [Vermansah], Rufino, and now Raimi [Noor] too.

"And Rufino hurt his hamstring again scoring the winner last Saturday. I think he and Raimi can only play for us again after the (SEA Games) break, in September," he revealed to Goal in a telephone call on Tuesday. 

When inquired about player availability for their Malaysia Cup group match against Sarawak on Wednesday, Maniam said that mid-season signings Andik and Amri are still being considered, while centre back Ugo Ukah is likely to make a return to the starting line up.

Ukah had been rested against Terengganu, after having started in all eight of Selangor's matches previously. 

"Andik and Amri will be on standby as Andik has been complaining of discomfort, but they will be in the team. I'll probably field them for 20 minutes. 

"Today we will observe Ukah further, but he should be able to play," said Maniam.

Ugo Ukah, Selangor, Malaysia Cup, 04072017

Ugo Ukah. Photo from Terengganu FA Facebook

Despite the absentees, Maniam is not worried about his side's chances in both of their matches this week, as he has faith in his reserve and youth players.

"My young players can do the job, with the guidance of the more senior players such as Amri, Razman [Roslan] and Ukah.

"Raimi and Saiful [Ridzuwan Selamat] too have been doing well, and they can set an example for the likes of Syahmi [Safari], Adam [Nor Azlin], Kannan [Kalaiselvan] and Nama (Namathevan Arunasalam)," remarked the former Selangor player.

After taking on Sarawak, Maniam's men will play their round 19 Super League match against league leaders JDT, who are coincidentally second in Group D currently.

The domestic competitions will then take a one-month break to give way to the SEA Games and the Malaysia national team's friendly matches.

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