BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor were held 3-3 in their Malaysia Cup group match against Kelantan at the Shah Alam Stadium, with Selangor's goals scored by Mauro Olivi and Patrick Wleh's brace, and Kelantan's goals scored by Wander Luiz Junior, Wan Zack Haikal, with substitute Manaf Mamat scoring the late equaliser.
The home side began with just one change in the lineup that beat PDRM 2-1 in the league last week. Indonesian winger was not on the players' sheet, nursing a knock suffered in the previous match and he was replaced by R. Gopinathan. Nigerian center back Ugo Ukah, who is shaping up to be an instant success at the side after scoring the winner against PDRM, started this match alongside acting captain Razman Roslan. Their attack was led by Patrick Wleh and Mauro Olivi.
The visitors meanwhile made two changes to the side that trounced East Coast rivals Terengganu 6-1 last weekend, with Indra Putra Mahayuddin taking over as captain from Badhri Razi, and the injured Muslim Ahmad's place in the defence taken over by another veteran, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah. The Red Warriors' attack meanwhile was led by Indra and Macedonian striker Baže Ilijoski, who slammed four goals past Terengganu in their previous match.
Brazilian midfielder Wander Luiz Junior almost gave the visitors the lead in the ninth minute, but his attempt to curl the ball in near the far post was palmed out by Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali. Almost instantaneously, the rebound led to a Selangor counter attack at the other end, which fortunately for Kelantan Wleh could not put away.
Norazlan was again called into action four minutes later, when he needed to stop a shot by Brendan Gan. The rebound fell right into the path of Ilijoski, but his first-time attempt sailed over the bar.
Ilijoski moments later had a penalty call turned down when he appeared to be shoved from behind by Ukah, but the referee waved it away.
In the 18th minute, Gopinathan was left with Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi to beat after midfielder S. Veenod stole the ball off Gan in Kelantan's half, but Fahmi did well to close down the angle and deny him the goal.
It was the homeside who found the first goal, in the 29th minute. Wleh's header off a corner was kept out by Fahmi, but it only fell into the path of Olivi, who slammed it home.
Ten minutes later, Wleh finally got his goal. He connected well with a cross from the left with his head, and his low header, which by all means was not really too dangerous, surprisingly eluded the grasp of Fahmi and ended in the back of the net. Replays showed that Fahmi slipped and lost his footing on the wet pitch while reaching for the attempt. That was Wleh's first goal for the Red Giants since their 2-1 win over Sheikh Jamal in the AFC Cup, on April 12.
Olivi could have killed the match with his deceptive freekick with four minutes to go in the second half, but the curling attempt only hit the top of the crossbar instead.
However the Red Warriors pulled one back in injury time of the first half through a freekick taken in the Selangor penalty box, after Norazlan was adjudged to have handled the ball twice. As the Selangor wall crowded in front of the ball, Gan simply nudged the ball towards Junior near the center of the box, and the Macedonian had no trouble slamming the ball in to make it 2-1 at the halftime whistle.
But the Red Giants restored their two-goal lead just four minutes into the second half, again through Wleh. An errant pass by new signing Morgaro Gomis was intercepted by Gopinathan, who then released the ball to Wleh running alongside him. Wleh had the easiest of task slotting the ball past Fahmi, for his second and Selangor's third.
The match then turned frantic, resulting in one booking each to Qayyum Marjoni Sabil and Nazmi Faiz.
Wleh could have got his hattrick at the hour mark, but he was brought down by Fahmi when attempting to circle around the goalkeeper. The referee surprisingly booked the Liberian for simulation, when replays showed that there was contact made by Fahmi's lunge.
In the 68th minute, Ukah was booked for an obstruction on Ilijoski. The resulting freekick, taken by new substitution Wan Zack Haikal just outside the Selangor box, just missed the bottom corner of the goal by inches.
However Wan Zack would find his goal in the 72nd minute, through a wonderfully-curled shot. Running down the left flank, he cut back inside to beat Bunyamin Omar. As soon as he stepped over the penalty box border, he curled the ball over Norazlan and into the top far corner to bring the Red Warriors right into the game.
Things turned worse for Selangor, when they then had to take off Ukah who was injured. He was replaced by Rizal Fahmi Rosid, who is a native of the Kelantan state himself. Leading by a slim difference and without the Nigerian, Selangor head coach Zainal Abidin Hassan then made the decision to shut up shop by bringing on utility-man Adam Nor Azlin.
With two minutes left on the clock, Ilijoski connected with Indra's cross from the right, but the attempt went agonisingly wide. Minutes later he would be booked for a desperate try on Norazlan.
But with just seconds left on the clock, Manaf Mamat squeezed the equaliser in, following a goalmouth melee.
Selangor : Norazlan Razali (GK), Bunyamin Umar, Ugo Ukah (Rizal Fahmi Rosid 76'), Razman Roslan (C), Raimi Nor, R. Gopinathan (Adam Nor Azlin 82'), Nazmi Faiz, S. Veenod, Hazwan Bakri (Hafiz Kamal 70'), Mauro Olivi, Patrick Wleh.
Kelantan : Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (GK), Norhafiz Zamani Misbah (Faris Shah Rosli 65'), Jonathan McKain, Nik Shahrul Azim Abdul Halim, Qayyum Marjoni Sabil (Abdul Manaf Mamat 82'), Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria (Wan Zack Haikal 61'), Brendan Gan, Morgaro Gomis, Indra Putra Mahayuddin (K), Wander Luiz Junior, Baže Ilijoski.