Sarawak claimed a big scalp in the FA Cup 2nd Round as they edged Selangor by a solitary goal at MPPJ Stadium.
After the debacle of last Saturday’s FA Cup 2nd Round match, the competition resumes with the rest of the fixtures starting with Selangor against Sarawak at MPPJ Stadium. The match was played in the blistering temperature of 35 Degree Celsius on the pitch while most of the fans scurried to the shaded parts of the stadium for cover. This, the first of two back-to-back fixtures for the teams in the same stadium with the league fixture coming up on Friday.
Chances in the first half were few and far in between with neither side able to maintain a high tempo due to the heat. Tactics revolved mainly around set-pieces and which team was able to execute theirs better. While Junior Aparecido struggled with his deliveries, the same could not be said of Robert Alberts’ players.
Ronny Harun in particular was creating all sorts of danger with his long throws into the Selangor penalty box, ala Rory Delap at Stoke City. The opening goal of the game came via this route in the 33rd minute of the first half as Selangor failed to clear one of those long throws and allowed the ball to bounce twice inside the box. Zamri Morshidi crept in unmarked at the far post and gleefully accepted the invitation to head one in.
Gabor Gyepes was done a fine job of marshalling Selangor’s top scorer, Paulo Rangel. His Brazilian compatriot, Junior, also found his namesake Junior Edstal a tough opponent to shake off. To be fair, Sarawak’s main threat in Alireza Abasfrad also found the Selangor defence a tough nut to crack.
Mehmet Durakovic had to rally his troops after a disappointing first half and Selangor came out into the second half like a team possessed. Suddenly they were stronger in the challenges and quicker to the second balls. They dominated the possession in the second period of the match with the majority of the match played in the Sarawak half of the pitch.
Things took a turn for the worse for the away side in the 62nd minute when goalkeeper Sani Anuar was sent off for a foul on Fitri Shazwan. Fitri did well to bend his run to lash on to Shukur Jusoh’s superb pass to reach the ball before Sani, who had no choice but to take down the Selangor winger. The foul happened right on the edge of the box and Fitri only received a freekick for his troubles.
Seeing the man advantage, Durakovic brought on more attacking options from the bench in the shape of Andik Vermansyah and Hadi Yahya. Yet, even with a man down, Sarawak’s defence held firm. The one clear chance that Selangor had to level the scores came through another run by Fitri but his first touch was just too heavy and replacement keeper, Mohd Fadzley managed to block the shot.
Albert will be jubilated to see his charges managing to fend off the Selangor attacks after attacks and see his side move into the next stage of the cup competition. As for Selangor, they will be left frustrated at the early exit in the competition and thus reducing their chances of lifting a trophy.