Selangor were among the first to complete their 2020 season roster, but have they done enough to help improve on their third-place finish last year?
With the new 2020 Malaysia Super League on the horizon, Goal will be bringing to you the complete guide to all 12 teams in the competition. Going through the changes in the respective squads to see where they could finish come the end of the season. We start right at the top and it’s the two-time league champions, Selangor.
How they fared in 2019
B. Satiananthan was the first head coach to be appointed by the Red Giants’ new management, but the fact that he was not their first choice (club legend Mehmet Durakovic gave his word to join from Perak, but in the end made a u-turn) quickly reared its head. Star signing Wan Zack Haikal picked up another ACL injury in pre-season, and despite having signed a few other big names such as Faiz Nasir, Nurridzuan Hassan and Halim Saari, they would go five matches without a win at the start of the league campaign. Some last-minute signings in the first transfer window helped them eventually start winning, but incosistency would dog them for the remainder of the season.
Draws at home to Perak and Melaka United and unfavourable results away to Terengganu FC and PKNP FC denied them the points that perhaps could have helped them end the league campaign in second place. But the eventual third place finish, their best since 2015, was a sufficient bragging point for Satiananthan, who would frequently remind journalists and fans of the fact when faced by criticism.
Despite the absence of 2018 Super League top-scorer Rufino Segovia for much of the season due to an injury, they still managed to score 41 goals; the second highest tally of the season, but they were ultimately let down by the defence; who let in 35 league goals and recorded only two clean sheets.
What’s new in the squad
Although the core players were retained, Satiananthan had to cut loose many of the big name signings; Faiz, Nurridzuan and Latiff Suhaimi. Meanwhile, they also parted ways with the belligerent Endrick dos Santos and club legend Amri Yahyah.
In their places came Malaysia star Brendan Gan and Singapore international Safuwan Baharuddin, as well as defenders Rodney Celvin and Nicholas Swirad. On top of these players, the establishment of their reserve team that will take part in the Premier League, composed of national academy graduates, means that they can call up junior Malaysia stars such as Mukhairi Ajmal and Sikh Izhan.
Who are the key players
In 2019, Gan had a stellar year upon his return to the national team, and the club board wasted no time in signing him from Perak. The club are also looking for him to inspire his new teammates through his commitment to improving. On top of this, newly-appointed team captain Taylor Regan told reporters that he is adopting a more vocal leadership approach, and hopefully he can back it up through improvements in his defence line.
Goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid improved tremendously towards the end of the season, resulting in him starting for Malaysia in their two last matches of the year, in which he performed splendidly. If he turned in more match-winning performances in club competitions, he is likely to make his place in the national team starting line-up a more permanent one.
Sandro da Silva is already 36 years old, but the attacker has shown no signs of slowing down in their pre-season friendlies.
Where will they finish in 2020
At the end of the day, Selangor are a club whose rebuilding process also takes place at the structural level, thus it is likely that board attention and resources will be stretched thin. A defence that remained porous all pre-season, Satiananthan’s sometimes telegraphed tactics, flawed physical attention, as well as external factors are likely to combine to impede their potential in the league. First place is not likely for them, but a runners up finish too may be a bridge too far for the Red Giants. Expect them to repeat their third-place finish this year.
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