PKNS FC 1-2 Selangor: Masterstroke substitution wins the game
Selangor started off slowly but Irfan Bakti made the right changes at the right time to ensure that the Red Giants went away with all three points despite a poor first half
By Ooi Kin Fai
Selangor came from behind to beat PKNS FC 2-1 in the local derby that saw the visitors make an emphatic change to grab the victory.
Both teams started without their star forwards; Ronaldinho Wleh and Francis Forkey Doe, for PKNS and Selangor respectively. To make matters worse for the away side, they had to do without their foreign stalwart Adam Griffiths.
The lack a focal point upfront seemed to affect the Red Giants more than it did for the Red Ants. Coach Hj. Abdul Rahman Ibrahim did not place his faith wrongly when selecting Mohd Nizad as the central striker and was rewarded with the only goal in the first half.
Roman Chmelo found himself with acres of space down Selangor’s left but he produced a disappointing cross. Yet, Mahali Jasuli somehow managed to miss-time the clearance and the ball fell kindly in Nizad’s path. The PKNS striker gladly accepted the invitation to score the opening goal.
PKNS were neat and tidy with their possession and kept the ball well. The interchange of play between Nazmi Faiz, Chmelo and Khairu Azrin were at times very pleasing on the eye. All these done in front of the composed policing behind them in captain, Mohd Fauzan.
As for Selangor, they lacked imagination going forward. Coach, Irfan Bakti had a game plan in mind when starting Muhammad Afiq as the lone striker, supported by Amri Yahya. He wanted to use Afiq's aerial prowess but the crosses were not up to mark and even when it was, PKNS defenders were alert to clear.
Two other highlights of the first half came from two outstanding blocks from centrebacks. First, Asraruddin Putra had to strain every sinew he had to chase down Nizad and produced the block. Later in the half, Azlan Zainal repeated the feat on the opposite end. Azlan appeared almost out of nowhere to block S. Kunanlan’s shot. In both instances, the attacking player was already through one-on-one with the keeper.
The first half ended on a sour note for Selangor and also national right back, Mahali Jasuli. He showed little positional discipline and was always caught in the wrong areas of the pitch. Not only that, he had a disastrous last five minutes of the half, as his passing constantly found players in the wrong colours.
The second period was looking comfortable for PKNS until Irfan provided the masterstroke change in the 67th minute. Bringing on Mohd Raimi and Mohd Fitri Shazwan for the ineffective Afiq and K. Solihin. That decision turned the game on its head and breathed life into Selangor’s game.
In the space of seven minutes, Selangor not only equalised but took the lead as well. Both goals came via Raimi. The energetic attacking midfielder provided the right foil for Amri, who moved further forward after the departure of Afiq.
Raimi neatly chested down an inch-perfect cross from Amri to slot home the equaliser. He then scored his second of the night, poking home a low cross, after more good work from Amri to release Mahali down the right hand side. That was Mahali’s first foray forward in the secondhalf, reining in his attacking instinct after that poor first 45 minutes.
If Selangor were poor in the first half, the role was reversed in the second as it was PKNS’s turn to look lethargic going forward and bereft of ideas. The space that was afforded to Nazmi and co., was not available to them anymore. Even bringing on Mohd Fazli for the tired Nizad did little to spark the home side back into groove again.
Irfan will be pleased that his charges eventually got going in the second half and Raimi will have played himself into the good books of his coach, after his brace. As for Hj. Abdullah, he must be left scratching his head as to why his team took their foot off the pedal and allowed Selangor back into the game.
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