Saturday's match between the Southern Tigers and the Red Giants is expected to be yet another entertaining and much-awaited affair
Mahali - Baihakki - Aidil (c) - Fazly
Rahim - Shakir
Amri – Aimar - Azwan
Bunyamin (c) - Pantelidis - Rizal - Azmi
Fitri - Guru - Shukor - Kunanlan
Matches between JDT and Selangor were always among the most entertaining matches of the 2013 Malaysian football season, with JDT emerging triumphant in their two-legged FA Cup quarter final matches, and Selangor nicking the coveted AFC Cup spot after their final league match ended in a draw. The two sides look to renew their rivalry this Saturday, when the Southern Tigers take on the Red Giants at home.
JDT's season has not been off to a good start, moreso when their massive spending is taken into account. After an easy season opener win over ten-man Perak, they shockingly fell to T-Team, drew with LionsXII despite leading the game initially, before losing to Pahang last week. It is still early, but if they continue to be inconsistent, they run the risk of experiencing the unthinkable for such a star-studded team; relegation.
They need to win against Selangor, not just to better their league spot, but also to return their fans' confidence. How do they go about doing this? They have been sublime in attack thanks to one Pablo Aimar, but it's their defence that have been porous. They have conceded six goals against the six that they have scored so far, and it is to no surprise that they are where they are now. They are not short of credible players even on the bench, so a revamp of the backline is due. Also should be questioned is the performance of ex Selangor goalkeeper; Nor Azlan Ismail. Last season he was credited for making the goal-shy Selangor's season a much better one, through his confident goalkeeping, but this season he is fast proving to be a faulty purchase by his new team. Either their 2013 first choice; Alhafiz Hamzah or Ong Kim Swee alumni Izham Tarmizi should be given the chance.
However, JDT's defence also have their work cut for them, in the sense that almost all of the visiting side's goals so far have come from one source; Paulo Rangel. He is to Selangor now what Marlon Alex James was to ATM last season; but not necessarily in a good way. This overreliance on Rangel had resulted in defeats when the Brazilian failed to score, and JDT need to render him useless on the pitch. Sarawak did this in their second round FA Cup match against Selangor last week, and emerged victorious.
For the visitors however, their good league form this season has dared their fans to start dreaming of silverware again, and a win at Larkin will definitely send a message to the whole country of their chances this season. But the season is a long way to go, and they need to overcome it one match at a time.
One such challenge is their dependence on Rangel, or their other strikers' inability to find the net. Part of this is because head coach Mehmet Durakovic has been reluctant to give his substitute strikers a chance and rest Rangel, but who can blame him, when he has a top-scorer in his squad? Come Saturday Durakovic needs to have a backup plan for when Rangel gets marked out of the game, and break their duck when Rangel does not score. He has Abdul Hadi Yahaya who has provided two assists so far, but he also has Harimau Muda graduates Thamil Arasu and Hazwan Bakri at his disposal.
They have not been spectacular in the defence and midfield this season, which still managed to carry them through, but against JDT they must be tighter. Yes there is Aimar, but there is also his partner; the former Selangor son Amri Yahyah. Sentiments aside, Amri seems to performing well alongside the international star, and they could give Selangor a headache.
On Saturday night, the whole country will be wait for the result of this match. They are going to want to know whether Selangor are the team they should be wary of, and whether a match against JDT still warrants zealous preparations.
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