Selangor are set to take on Kelantan at their newly refurbished fortress, Shah Alam Stadium
BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
It is fitting that the re-opening of the Shah Alam Stadium will see Selangor taking on Kelantan in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) match. Selangor has so far played in the MPPJ Stadium in the afternoon while awaiting their home stadium to be refurbished and the pitch to be re-laid. The Red Giants will want to kick off their “home” campaign by beating Kelantan.
Both teams are Malaysia’s representative in the AFC Cup and both suffered excruciating defeats in midweek. Ironically, both teams lost to their Vietnamese counterparts, though in contrasting fashion. Selangor only narrowly lost to Hanoi T&T while a 9 men Kelantan side wasn’t enough to hold off Vissai Ninh Binh in Kota Bahru.
It remains to be seen which players will have recover sufficiently enough to play a prominent role in this match. Mehmet Durakovic and Steve Darby will be hoping that the changes that they made in midweek, could help them win this tie. K. Gurusamy and Bunyamin Omar were the regulars rested for Selangor while Badhri Radzi, Mohamed Shawky, Fakri Saarani and Khairul Fahmi did not start in midweek.
For Darby, the main threat from the home side will be obvious. Paulo Rangel has scored 7 goals in 6 league matches this season. Given that Fitri Shazwan is the only other league goal scorer for Selangor, there’s no doubt how reliant Selangor is, on the clinical Brazilian striker. On what is expected to be a much better playing grass in Shah Alam, Andik Vermansyah’s talent is another one to look out for.
As for Durakovic, his focus will be a little more spread out. The threat from the Kelantan side comes in the form of their three foreign imports. However, with Obinna Nwaneri expected to start, only two out of Mohammad Ghaddar (3 goals), Francis Forkey Doe (2 goals) and Shawky (2 goals) can play at the same time. Badhri is expected to be restored to the heart of midfield to pull the strings for the away side.
Only three points separates the two sides in the league table. Kelantan are the joint leaders with their East Coast neighbours, Terengganu on 13 points. A win for either side would push them firmly to the upper region of the table. That should set both sides up to play for the win and hopefully that will serve up a fantastic viewing for the fans returning to Shah Alam Stadium.