BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The Red Giants are not neglecting the remainder of the Super League competition to prioritise on the Malaysia Cup, promised association secretary-general Johan Kamal Hamidon in a short interview with Goal.
Head coach B. Satiananthan has recently been criticised by the team's ultras for a remark he made to an online publication, stating that he wants the team to reach the Malaysia Cup final.
The statement was received badly by the fans, who took it as a sign of him refusing to focus on finishing the league campaign as high in the standings as they can, to earn a possible AFC Champions League play-off place for the 2020 season. The fans raised a sarcastic banner in their 5-2 league win at home over Pahang on Tuesday, criticising what they perceived to be the team's lack of ambition.
.@ultraSel_'s snarky banner ahead of #SELPHG; 'Congrats, Malaysia Cup finalists'. They've recently been critical of the team and management's supposed lack of ambition in #LigaSuper2019 pic.twitter.com/KSTXNsq3GM— Zulhilmi Zainal❤💛 (@zulhilmibzainal) June 25, 2019
While the experienced coach himself declined to comment on the fans' indignation in the post-match interviews, Johan has assured the fans that the team is gunning to finish the league campaign near the top of the standings, when met by Goal after the match. They are currently in fourth place with four matches remaining, two points behind second-placed Pahang. JDT meanwhile have just won their sixth successive league title, with their most recent win on Wednesday.
"The fans have the right to say whatever they want to say, but I want to clarify that the board and the coaching staff are committed to do our best in every match. That's clear from our preparations and our promotional work; we will do our best with whatever resources that we have.
"We never look down on any tournaments and games; they're all important. Obviously the coach has his own reasons behind his player selection, he has to choose players who are physically, mentally and emotionally fit. That's down to him because the coach knows best. In every game, every player fielded is the best eleven players that are available at the time," said Johan.
Johan Kamal Hamidon. Photo by Malaysian Football League
Goal also raised the issue of recent altercations involving the team's players and fans, to which he responded by admitting that the pressure of playing for Selangor sometimes does affect the players.
After their 1-0 away league defeat to Terengganu FC in late May, goalkeeper Farizal Harun was caught in a heated exchange of words with the ultras, for which he was later handed community service as punishment by the club. In April, the experienced custodian had also been involved in a similar altercation following their 4-3 away league win over Melaka United, an incident that did not result in any action on him.
Last week, a fan claimed that Sean Selvaraj rebuked him on Instagram for a comment that he left on one of the forward's posts, following Selangor's 3-2 away defeat in the league to JDT.
Cuit sikit pun melatah, lembik. pic.twitter.com/MGEIlEvsVM— MhmdEffie (@effyamron_) June 22, 2019
"The pressure that comes with playing for Selangor is big, everyone understands that. It is something that we cannot avoid and we need to manage. To be honest, we should embrace it. It's very important for the club; the management, the staff, the players, everyone, to lead by example. Even among the management staff, we're still trying to grasp that idea of professionalism, of leading by example as a role model. It is something that we want to work on.
"In any players' case, everytime we receive it (a complaint), we will discuss it with the committee and advise the player. In the end surely they want to have a long career, don't they? It's important that they don't get distracted, and to simply focus on the football. This sort of cultural and mindset change doesn't happen overnight; the players need time to be made to understand why, without putting them down or isolating them.
"But they have to understand that they're being paid a high salary because of the burden of professionalism and the need to maintain their integrity. However, not everyone can accept and understand this. Some think that playing football is all that they have to do, that they're being paid thousands of Ringgit just for that. But all of this is a process," explained the former student association leader.
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