BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor faced very little challenge from Indonesia's Persib Bandung in their first 2020 Asia Challenge pre-season tournament match, edging the Maung Bandung 3-0 at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday. All the goals came in the first half courtesy of Taylor Regan (10'), Sandro da Silva (41') and Syahmi Safari (45').
Red Giants boss B. Satiananthan made some interesting changes to his line-up. Leftback K. Prabakaran was moved to the centre back position alongside newly-appointed captain Regan with Tamil Maran Manimaran taking over the role, while Malaysia star Brendan Gan started in midfield. On the right flank was Wan Zack Haikal, finally free of his ACL injury, starting in place of Khyril Muhymeen who was not fit. Goalkeeper Farizal Harun was handed a start in place of Malaysia international Khairulazhan Khalid.
Persib meanwhile reportedly arrived in Shah Alam without their key players, and featured two Brazilians forwards who had just been signed for the 2020 season. One was Joel Vinicius, and the other Wander Luiz, who had played in Malaysia previously.
It did not take long for the first goal to be scored. Regan netted the opening goal in the 10th minute. Following a corner kick, he was fed the ball almost unchallenged in the penalty box by Sandro da Silva, and the Australian struck a low shot, which Persib goalkeeper Dhika Bayangkara was not able to contend with properly.
The goal gave the hosts the impetus to go forward, and they troubled the defence line of the Indonesians.
In the 26th minute Ifedayo Olusegun beat Dhika with a cheeky touch, but his effort was cleared off the line by Zalnando, and no goal was given by the linesman.
Persib did relatively well to absorb the attacking moves of the Red Giants, but in the end succumbed to the individual brilliance of Sandro in the 41st minute. The 36-year old attacker curled a low shot from the edge of the penalty area, and it sailed past Dhika and into the net.
In the first half injury time, Ifedayo fed Syahmi Safari inside the box, and the right back squeezed it between the defenders' legs for the hosts' third of the night.
No changes were made by either team at the start of the second half, but 10 minutes later made four changes at the same time; bringing on Safuwan Baharudin, Nicholas Swirad, Sean Selvaray, and young new signing Mukhairi Ajmal. The visitors followed suit with their multiple substitution minutes later.
Sean almost helped Selangor find their fourth goal of the night, but Ifedayo could not trap his low cross in the box properly.
The match took on the tone of a training match when more subsitutions were made, but the youngsters introduced by Satiananthan in the second half; Mukhairi, Anwar Ibrahim, Azrin Afiq, and Zahril Azri Zabri showed that they may not need long to break into the first team. Taking over from the likes of Brendan and Sandro, the boys were able to continue troubling the Persib defence, and were only let down by their poor finishing.
Whereas for Persib, tt was understandable for them to underwhelm somewhat due to their roster situation, but Luiz and Vinicius had no reason to disappoint after missing a number of chances to at least pull one back for the Indonesians.
Ultimately, no goals could be scored in the second half and it ended 3-0 to the Red Giants. In the earlier match, Ha Noi FC were defeated by True Bangkok United, also by the same scoreline. On Sunday, both Saturday winners will face off against each other, while Persib will play Ha Noi.
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