Kelantan 1-0 Selangor: Advantage Red Warriors
Kelantan take a slender lead into the next leg after Norfarhan Mohammad’s second half goal hands them a slim win in Kota Bharu
By Prem Kumar
A solitary strike from striker Norfarhan Mohammad was enough to give hosts Kelantan an important first leg victory over Selangor at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium.
With the game locked at 0-0, Norfarhan beat a defender before unleashing a left foot shot into the right bottom corner from outside the box in the 61st minute.
Cheered on by a packed house in Kota Bharu, Kelantan took to the field looking confident of securing a win even without captain Badri Radzi. National striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha took the armband following Badri’s late withdrawal from the squad due to an eye injury.
The match started at a frenetic pace with both teams eager to set an early tone and stamp their authority on the match.
It was Selangor who should have opened the scoring, but they missed a golden chance to grab an early away goal in the 4th minute. It was Amri Yahyah who broke on the right and he put the ball on a platter for Croatian import Bosko Balaban, but he shot over the bar with the goal gaping.
Straight after, Kelantan forced Selangor goalkeeper, Norazlan Razali into back to back saves through attempts from Norshahrul and Nurul Azwan Roya.
In the 15th minute, Kelantan’s Lebanese superstar Mohammed Ghaddar got the spectators excited when he outran countryman Ramez Dayoub through the middle and hit a shot with the outside of his foot, but the ball missed the post by a couple of meters.
Selangor slowly started to come into the game and took advantage of Badri’s absence by eventually asserting control over the midfield, led by Malaysian skipper Safiq Rahim and his partner S.Veenod.
Bojan Hodak made a tactical switch during the break as the homesters came back and started to show more determination to get on the ball in the second half.
After 20 minutes of patient play, Norfarhan struck to send the fans wild.
Selangor’s misery was compounded immediately after kick-off when Nasriq Baharom gave referee Yusoff Karim no option but to send him off for a dangerous lunge on Nurul Azwan.
It became a one-sided game after that with Kelantan dominating all the possession but their lack of creative edge resulted in them failing to create any telling goal-scoring opportunities. The win however, was enough to send the fans home with smiles on their faces.
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