Paulo Rangel returned to his former hunting ground to send Perak reeling from yet another defeat in the Super League.
It’s the last round of fixtures that sees the Super League hit the halfway mark. 3rd placed Selangor travelled to Ipoh to face a Perak team that is mired at the bottom of the league table. The Red Giants comes into this game on the back of a rousing 3-1 over Hanoi T&T in the AFC Cup while Perak last recorded a win against Kelantan back in early February. Mehmet Durakovic will no doubt be relying on hotshot Paulo Rangel, who returns to his former stomping ground.
Perak coach, Abu Bakar Fadzim threw his new imports into the fray and initially started both Hassan Daher and Imad Ghaddar. However, prior to kick-off, Ghaddar had to drop out and was replaced by Shahrizal Saad. While Durakovic kept faith with most of his team that played Hanoi, which means another start in the centre of midfield for S. Kunanlan.
As early as the 4th minute, Selangor threatened Perak’s goal. Steve Pantelidis had made a dash forward and managed to find Thamil Arasu with his cross. However, the former Harimau Muda striker’s header was only inches wide of the post. Just 3 minutes later, Kyaw Zayar Win latched onto a loose ball in midfield and drove forward before drilling in a low short which Farizal Marlias was in a good position to stop it.
Midway through the first half, the visitors took the lead. With Hadi Yahya cornered by two Perak players, he still managed to sneak a pass away for S. Veenod to run onto, inside of Perak’s penalty box. It was still a manageable situation for the home side until Raffi Nagoorgani decided to dive in. The result was inevitable. Raffi was late and all he did was bring down Venood to concede the penalty. Rangel didn’t have any trouble converting the ensuing spot kick.
The game looks balanced as despite conceding the opening goal, the heads of the Perak players didn’t drop. They continued to plug away with Zayar Win and Nasir Basharudin at the centre of very determined work and passing in the middle of the pitch. Andik Vermansyah looks to give Tuah Iskandar a couple of hairy moments with his direct dribbling, often having Rangel moving left to double team on the Perak right back.
At the start of the second half, Abu Bakar Fadzim made some adjustment to his team. Bringing on Azmeer Yusoff for Mohd Hisyamudin and pushed Zayar Win to wide left with Norhakim Isa moving to the centre of midfield. Even though Perak had more possession in the opening period of the second half, they struggled to break through Selangor’s tough defence.
With Andik becoming left influential and Rangel struggling to find support, Selangor were in danger of being put under immense pressure as Perak went in search of the equaliser. Sensing the foothold that Perak has gained in the game, Durakovic countered by shoring up his midfield. Thamil Arasu was taken off and Shukur Jusuh played in his stead.
In a way it was a tactic which worked because despite the large amount of possession that Perak enjoyed, it was a controlled defensive performance from the away side. Perak were allowed to pass it around but once it reached Selangor’s penalty area, they hit a stumbling block. Pantelidis and Shahrom Kalam were solid in their reading of the game to continually thwart attacks after attacks. They had to thank the tremendous amount of shift that Kunanlan put in, in front of them in midfield. To make matters easier for them, Shahrizal got himself sent off in the 88th minute as frustration got the better of him and he dived in recklessly on Pantelidis from behind.
In the end, Selangor hung on for the 3 all-important 3 points to ensure that they keep within touching distance of the top of the table. As for Perak, the misery continues and they need to find inspiration somewhere if they are to climb away from the bottom of the league table.