BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
On most days, Selangor head coach Maniam Pachaiappan is a no-nonsense man when talking to the media, preferring to get straight to the point, and barely cracking a smile even after seeing his side record a win.
But Tuesday was not most days. Despite losing their 2-0 first half lead to allow Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) to level the scoreline in the second half in their Group D Malaysia Cup match, a Raimi Noor through pass to Liberian striker Forkey Doe forced JDT defender Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak into bringing down the Selangor forward in the JDT penalty area, in injury time.
The referee pointed straight to the spot and booked Aidil. Former JDT man Amri Yahyah stepped up to take the penalty, and he coolly slotted it in to give the Red Giants their first win over the Southern Tigers since 2013.
The rare win against JDT evidently had an effect on Maniam as well as the reporters present for the match. When he stepped into the press conference room after the match alongside man of the match Amri Yahyah, the media was somehow at a loss for words, and took a little longer to pose the first question to him.
He looked bemusedly at the gathered reporters, and uncharacteristically opened with a joke:
"I think nobody expected the result, it seems that everybody (the reporters in the room) is still shocked that we won 3-2!"
But in the same breath, the former Selangor player's pragmatism quickly returned, and he explained what went right for his men, including luck.
"In the first half we played well, we created a lot of chances and looked better.
"But after leading 2-0 we defended too deeply, in the second half we did not really control the game. JDT made changes and played well, they managed to equalise.
"With some luck and determination by my players we got the winning penalty, and we deserve to win," explained Maniam.
He also praised veteran player and former JDT man Amri Yahyah, who scored their second goal and converted the match-winning penalty.
"Amri is an ex-player who came back, he's a legend. He did a lot and he scored two goals, when he plays he inspires other players.
"They are motivated because of Amri. Amri inspires his teammates," commended Maniam.
He also gave credit to the Red Giants' second-string players when asked by Goal, explaining that they performed when given more playing time in the hectic July fixtures.
One of these players; defender Fairuz Abdul Aziz exemplified this. He opened the scoring in the 33rd minute of the match; forcing in the Red Giants' first goal after a corner kick.
"I must give credit to the reserve players, they haven't been playing in four or five matches, but when I picked them they gave their best.
"Although they only played for 60, 70 minutes, they never stopped running, they concentrated, they played with heart," said Maniam.
In the match, Selangor found two quick goals in the 33rd and 35th minute through Fairuz and Amri, but Hazwan Bakri and Darren Lok levelled the score for the visitors in the 56th and 69th minute. Amri's late penalty then gave the Red Giants the all three points, and allowed them to take the top spot in Group D of the Malaysia Cup.
Post-match interview with Amri and Maniam.