Unlike last season, this year Selangor opened their Malaysia Super League campaign with a win, edging Pahang 2-1 in Kuantan.
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
In the match that was held at the Darul Makmur Stadium, Ifedayo Olusegun’s equaliser in the 27th minute cancelled out Ivan Carlos’ 20th-minute opener. But the Red Giants struggled to control the game in the second half, their defence in constant disarray, custodian Khairulazhan Khalid their saviour with his heroics. With one minute remaining on the clock, new signing Brendan Gan showed why the club were eager to sign him in the pre-season, the midfielder beating two defenders with a cutback before smashing the ball in past Sharbinee Allawee’s grasp for the late winner.
89′ | GOL BRENDAN!
— MFL LIVE (@MFL_Live) February 29, 2020
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Satiananthan reminded the press of how difficult the first match of a new season usually is.
“The first match is always tough. But although they did not play as well as I know they could, the three points was paramount.
“Nobody can rightly say that Pahang are no longer a formidable side. Dickson Nwakaeme made my players’ lives difficult; he is perfect for the Malaysian league due to his imposing size and ball control. But despite Pahang’s pressure, my men didn’t lose their shape. Getting Gan to run behind the defenders was the right call, and he combined well with Rufino [Segovia], who was playing in his first official match in almost a year.
“The pitch condition too played a factor. Previously, this stadium pitch had been one of the best in the country. But tonight it was just pockmarked, as I found out when I got here. That contributed to us not being able to play a passing game as well as we usually did,” pointed out the former Malaysia head coach.
He also explained that he substituted right back Namathevan Arunasalam at halftime in order to protect his team’s right flank better from Pahang winger Gopi Rizqi’s runs. His place was taken over by Syahmi Safari who started the match as a right flanker, and his replacement Khyril Muhymeen slotted into the position vacated by Syahmi.
“Gopi was causing all sorts of problems for Nama who lacks pace, whereas Syahmi has speed and could cope with Gopi.
“Pahang’s goal came from Nama’s side. It’s not that he played badly, but he just couldn’t cope with Gopi’s pace and I had to take action,” explained Satiananthan.
The Red Giants will next host Perak in round two, at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday March 7.
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