BY I.F. WONG Follow on Twitter
Selangor edged Penang by a single Mauro Olivi goal in a lethargic game at the Selayang Municipal Stadium in the MSL tonight.
Selangor coach Zainal Abidin Hassan brought back Argentine Olivi from internal suspension into the team while Razman Roslan returned from injury to start at left back. Saiful Ridzuan Selamat started his first game for Selangor alongside Nazmi Faiz Mansor in midfield.
Penang’s interim coach Manzoor Azwira, on the other hand, started with an all local strike force of S. Kumaahran and freekick sensation Faiz Subri.
The first period was largely a snoozefest with neither team playing with any meaningful creativity or confidence which is a reflection of the teams’ poor form of late. The only note-worthy moment came in the 16th minute when Mauro Olivi celebrated his reinstatement to the team with a freekick goal that Penang goalkeeper Sani Anuar Kamsani should really have had stronger hands to keep out.
The Panthers could not muster any kind of a response in the remainder of the half with Selangor’s Shahrom Kalam and Robert Cornthwaite easily keeping Kumaahran and Faiz at bay.
The second half was marginally better as a spectacle with Penang offering slightly more in an attacking sense. Kumaahran had a firm shot well saved by Khairul Azhan on the hour after smartly side stepping Robert Cornthwaite.
In what was perhaps the most interesting minutes of the game, Andik Vermansah provided an in inch-perfect cross for substitute Adam Nor Azlin who had an open goal to aim at from eight yards. The Selangor attacker fluffed his lines and almost immediately at the other end Osas Ikpefua dribbled past the Selangor defence and Khairul Azhan in goal but failed to steer the ball into the net.
Selangor secured the points they so desperately needed to restore some confidence while keeping their first clean sheet since beating Air Asia FC in the FA Cup all of eleven games ago.
Selangor team manager Amirudin Shari lamented his team’s missed chances after the game.
“We need to sort out our conversion rate for the next game as our midfield created many chances,” he said.
As for Penang, a long hard season lie ahead based on tonight.
“I am satisfied with our performance and Selangor didn’t have it all their way,” remarked Penang coach Manzoor Azwari.
Khairul Azhan, Shahrom Kalam, Robert Cornthwaite, Azrif Nasrulhaq, Razman Roslan, Nazmi Faiz, Saiful Ridzuan (S. Veenod 83rd), Mauro Olivi (Adam Nor Azlin 75th), Hazwan Bakri (R. Gopinathan 73rd), Andik Vermansah, Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh.
Sani Anuar Kamsani, Darwira Sazan, Reinaldo Lobo, Mafry Balang, Fitri Omar, Matias Cordoba, Fauzan (Maslizam 83rd), Osas Ikpefua (Ghazli 82nd), Rafiuddin (Jafri Chew 73rd), Kumaahran, Faiz Subri