BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
After Perak could only manage a 1-1 draw against Selangor in their round 16 Malaysia Super League match, Bos Gaurus midfielder Brendan Gan has chalked down the result on Selangor's effective use of long ball deliveries throughout the encounter.
In the match that was held at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium on Tuesday, the visitors dominated the middle of the park in the first half, forcing the hosts into sending long balls up front. The Bos Gaurus' midfield supremacy helped them take the lead, when Selangor centre back Alfonso de la Cruz inadvertently stabbed Nor Hakim Hassan's cross from the left into his own net in the 42nd minute.
But several changes took place in midfield in the second half, first with Perak midfielder Khairil Anuar Zamri taken off the game in the 63rd minute for an injury. Nazliazmi then brought on Syahmi Safari for Evan Dimas Darmono, and substituted off forward Kugan Dhevarajan for midfielder Halim Zainal. The changes allowed the hosts to gain the momentum, resulting in Amri Yahyah's equaliser from a free kick in the 81st minute.
Selangor vs Perak match highlights
Despite the result, the Australian-born player credited his teammates for their performance in the away encounter, particularly midfielder Kenny Pallraj Davaragi, who started the match in place of Leandro dos Santos.
"Kenny did a great job for me, I feel we did a great job today. Everyone who came on has to do a good job if we want to be champions. We must hold everyone up to a high standard, regardless if we're starting in the match or coming on from the bench.
"We move on, and like the coach (Mehmet Durakovic) said, we have to try to close the gap a bit more," said Gan in the post-match press conference.
He also praised his team's ability to adapt to the absence of Brazilian forward Gilmar, who was suspended for the match.
"With Gilmar not here, we changed our style of play; we played the ball to the feet, we played one-twos around the corner. We played well today, we created chances. We have to put our scoring boots on and continue on," he remarked.
However, Gan admitted that the Bos Gaurus could not keep defending against the hosts' long balls, which led to them conceding the equaliser.
"It's difficult to defend against long balls for 90 minutes. We pressed high and tried to put pressure on their midfield, but as soon as we did that they sent long balls into the little gaps, which are hard to close down sometimes.
"They had a few chances here and there and a few big boys, while we did not have any big boys today. We played into their hands, and while long balls are not very attractive football, it worked for them in getting the equaliser," explained the former Sydney FC.
After the match, Perak remained in second place, but will go 13 points behind leaders JDT if the Southern Tigers beat Terengganu on Wednesday. For Selangor, their fourth consecutive undefeated match was not enough for them to avoid dropping down one spot to the ninth place.