BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Despite the fact that they did not play against Kelantan as well as they have in the previous matches against other teams, Selangor managed to record a 1-0 win over Kelantan in their Super League match on Saturday.
Playing at home against the Red Warriors who were second best throughout the 90 minutes, the Red Giants never got into second gear after evergreen forward Amri Yahyah scored what would end up as the only goal of the match in the 20th minute. Their defence was exposed a number of times while forwards; Amri and Veenod Subramaniam failed to combine well with Liberian striker Forkey Doe to kill the game.
However, that did not take away from the fact that the 33-time Malaysia Cup champions are definitely performing well. The win means that they have played in seven consecutive matches in all competitions without losing, a record that began since the start of the second stretch of the season, which altogether includes five wins and two draws.
This improved consistency is a marked progress when compared to Selangor's performance in the first half of the season, when they almost never recorded back-to-back wins, defeats or draws in all competitions. (Coincidentally, the only time they did that this season was in February, when they defeated Felda United 3-1, and then Kelantan 2-0 in back-to-back Super League matches.
When asked by Goal to explain about this improvement in the post-match press conference against Kelantan, the Red Giants boss Maniam Pachaiappan chalked it up to his men's growing familiarity with his tactics.
"It's the players' mindset. They are more confident with the style of play, and they believe in themselves.
"Not only in themselves, but also in their teammates. They work hard together; the more senior players guide the younger ones and we can see that the team spirit is there," explained the former Selangor player.
He too was not worried about the looser performance of his team against the Red Warriors, explaining that his men were simply fatigued and were missing their key players.
"We've been through seven games (in July), the players are fatigued and what they need now is some rest and recovery.
"Even Andik (Indonesian winger Andik Vermansah) is injured. He only came on in the last 25 minutes, and even then he could not press intensely. But overall I am happy with the result," he pointed out.
Commenting on the match itself, Maniam said that his side played better in the first half as compared to the second.
"In the first half we played well even without Rufino (Spanish striker Rufino Segovia) and Andik. We led by one goal and created two, three more chances, but we just did not convert them.
"And in the second half we defended more and avoided conceding, which was our objective today. My men did my job well, not just one or two but all eleven of them worked hard on defending," praised the 48-year old trainer.