|By Khalis Rifhan
Harimau Muda moved up to sixth spot in the S.League table after their 2-1 victory over Brunei DPMM at the Pasir Gudang stadium on Wednesday, as they ended a two-game losing streak.
Striker Faizat Ghazli and fan-favourite Maxsius Musa scored a goal each in the second half, while Brazilian defender Tales dos Santos grabbed a consolation for Vjeran Simunic's side towards the end of the game.
After suffering back-to-back losses, Harimau coach Razip Ismail was pleased that his charges showed character and put on a magnificent performance against a more experienced team.
“This is three important points for us after two straight two defeats and credit go[es] to my players for playing their best throughout the whole 90 minutes and they deserved to win," he declared.
“Brunei [DPMM] is not an easy team [to play against] and in the second half they tried to push us all the way, but thankfully we got the early goal and although they got a goal, we defended very well until the end of the game.”
Razip also revealed that he had been studying his opponents' style of play prior to the match and was glad his players played to his game-plan.
“I am not surprised by the way they play - sending the long balls forward - as most teams in the league displayed a similar style of play as they used their height as an advantage, and I expected this and informed my players about this," he remarked.
“We do not have tall players like the rest of the teams but today, my game-plan worked and we managed to stop them.”
While a top-five finish in the league is not impossible for the Malaysians, Razip preferred not to celebrate too early and hopes his boys will get maximum points in future home matches.
“The journey is still far away and even though we are in sixth position now, it still a long way to go and teams below us will play their game soon and [the] table might change every round," he said.
“It is important to win at home and gain a point away from home to achieve our target.”
As for DPMM coach Simunic, who believed it was difficult for his team to cope after their striker Joao Moreira had to be substituted midway through the first half because of an injury, he praised his side for not giving up despite trailing by two goals.
“We have some chances to end with a draw but the game started unlucky for us as our best striker had to be replaced and when you give Harimau a goal, it is hard to come back as they are a fantastic team," he explained.
“In the second half we went a goal down and we put [Dos] Santos forward and we created some chances and we could have gained a point if we had not conceded a stupid second goal, which was our mistake.
“It was not easy to play with two goals down but [I am happy that] we finished the game with [a] high level of fight.”