Upcoming Aidiladha break gives UKM's Sulaiman the jitters

Zulhilmi Zainal
The Varsity Boys now lead Group A of the Challenge Cup, after two wins in as many matches.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

University side UKM FC recorded their second consecutive win in the inaugural edition of the Challenge Cup, when they defeated relegated Super League side Negeri Sembilan 2-1 on Tuesday.

In the matchday two Group A encounter, Nigerian striker Michael Ijezie opened the scoring in the 38th minute, with Ferris Danial Nasir equalising for the visitors in the 58th minute. However, Ijezie bagged the winner five minutes from time, to send the Varsity Boys to the top of the group and take his personal goal tally to seven.

Commenting on the match, UKM head coach Sulaiman Hussin remarked that his charges' inability to control the middle of the park after scoring the opener almost punished them.

"At halftime, I told the boys that it was just 1-0 and we were not safe yet as Negeri would press them in the second half. I instructed them to play more on the flanks so as to avoid losing the ball in midfield.

"But the opposite happened and they kept losing the ball easily in midfield, Negeri took advantage of this to score the equaliser. I then reminded them again to utilise the wings, and praise Allah they scored the winner," explained the former Kuala Lumpur player.

But despite the back-to-back wins, Sulaiman is facing the coming week with apprehension.

Matchday three of the competition will only take place in two weeks' time due to the Islamic celebration of Aidiladha next Tuesday and Wednesday, and the UKM boss is concerned that the time off will disrupt the momentum his charges has built up.

"I'm a little worried about our next match; away to Terengganu FC II, not because they are dangerous. But I'm concerned with the two-week lull before the fixture as well as Aidiladha; my boys will definitely ask for some time off to be with their families.

"A similar situation had happened before in the Premier League; I gave them time off for the Aidilfitri break, but when they came back they lost their form. This will be a problem, but I will learn from my previous mistake. I need to find the right moment to let them go for the break, so that the momentum can be maintained," he remarked.


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