BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
In the end, Selangor's lack of experience and quality led to their defeat at the final hurdle, when they were beaten by Pahang 2-0 in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Playing without the injured Brazilian centre back Willian Pacheco at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, the Red Giants first conceded in the 23rd minute, a first time strike by Azam Azih, before Patrick Cruz widened the margin from the spot in the 62nd minute.
Selangor vs Pahang match highlights
This gap in experience was admitted by head coach Nazliazmi Nasir, who said in the post-match press conference that Pahang forwards caused troubles to his relatively young side, who could not quite settle in the clash.
At the start of the match, he fielded four players aged 21 and below, and the match was their first ever senior level cup final.
"My boys made a number of mistakes in the first half, while Pahang attackers were very dangerous and effective in the final third. Our young players like Kugan [Dhevarajan] and Amirul [Ashraf Ariffin] too had a shaky start to the match.
"Rufino (striker Rufino Segovia) did not get the support he needed from the midfield, and when he was presented with chances, the Pahang defence were ready to stop him.
"We tried playing a high-pressing game, but Pahang defenders Bunyamin [Umar], Faisal Rosli and Muslim [Ahmad] are experienced and know how to avoid this. The few times it worked, we did not transition quickly enough and the chances went begging.
"They generally have seasoned players who are familiar with playing in final matches, and took advantage of our inexperience," explained the Selangor boss.
But despite the defeat, he is confident that the Red Giants can win a title in the coming years, when the young squad matures.
"I predict that (young) players such as Amirul, Kugan and Syahmi (Safari) will improve due to what they have picked up tonight," said the former youth coach.
This sentiment is echoed by centre back Razman Roslan, who started in the match in place of Pacheco, his first start for Selangor since April 21.
"The young boys are definitely gutted over the defeat, but perhaps only for tonight. It's understandable, as it is their first ever cup final at the senior level.
"They still have a long way to go. In the next two or three years, Selangor will be a side with championship material. By that time, they will have had sufficient experience of playing in big matches such as tonight's game," said the 33-year old defender.
The Red Giants now need to pick themselves up again, as they have six Super League games to play in before the month of July ends. They are currently in seventh place, and on this Wednesday they play away to bottom-placed Kelantan.
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