BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Following Selangor's two back-to-back defeats in the Malaysia Super League recently, the Red Giants were spotted playing in a different formation in their friendly match against UKM FC, in Bangi on Tuesday.
Head coach Maniam Pachaiappan fielded two different sides in the match that ended in a 1-1 draw, with the first team fielded in the first half while the reserve team, composed mostly of their youngsters, took the field in the second.
Interestingly, the first team played in a 4-3-3 formation with their movement concentrated more in the middle, as opposed to the 3-4-3 formation that the Red Giants have been utilising under him.
However, it was obvious that Maniam's men require more time to be used to the change, as they laboured to control the game in the first half. The younger side fielded at the start of the second half then reverted to 3-4-3 and attacking from the flanks, and they began dominating the game. Only then did they find the back of the net, through Indonesian star Ilham Udin Armaiyn's goal, which was later cancelled by a penalty that was awarded to the Varsity Boys.
In their 3-1 home defeat to Pahang last Saturday, the visitors had succesfully stopped Selangor from dominating the flanks like they usually do, while keeping control of the middle of the park, effectively keeping the hosts out of the game.
This Sunday, they will play FAM Cup side MOF FC in the second round of the FA Cup, at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium, Cheras.
Speaking to Goal after the friendly, Maniam admitted that he is working on making the formation change ahead of the cup tie, but conceded that his men need more time to get accustomed to playing in a 4-3-3 formation.
"I have to change the formation a little after what has happened. However as we could see, the team struggled in the first half playing with four in the back, but played better in the second half," remarked the former Malaysia international.
Despite this, he was quick to dismiss any suggestion that he will field a younger side against MOF, saying that the match is important to them.
"We cannot underestimate MOF although they play in the third tier," said Maniam. "Furthermore, we need to win the match in order to boost our morale for our next league match; against Perak."
But more interestingly, Spaniard Alfonso de la Cruz, whose performance for Selangor had been criticised since he joined the Red Giants just a week before the season started, was moved to the centre back position in the match against UKM, partnering Brazilian defender Willian Pacheco.
Although Alfonso is a defender, he had been fielded by Maniam as a defensive midfielder, a position in which he struggled to play in. Against Pahang, he was substituted off by Maniam in the 32nd minute, with the coach telling Goal afterwards he did because the Spaniard was not doing what was required of him.