Super League | Shah Alam Stadium | Wednesday April 4 | 9pm
Selangor aiming for homecoming victory.
Selangor will want to celebrate their return to Shah Alam Stadium with a positive result but they face a difficult task against a motivated T-Team that are aiming for their fifth straight Malaysia Super League win.
The venue was closed for renovation last December and Selangor had used Selayang Stadium for their home games.
Selangor have had countless memorable matches at Shah Alam Stadium and they hope to re-ignite their fading hopes of the league title with their return to the venue.
T-Team started miserably with three points from their five opening matches and were then touted as relegation contenders.
However, Rahmad Darmawan’s side silenced their critics with wins over Kelantan, Sarawak, Kedah and Penang.
Rahmad attributed his team’s success to their prowess in attack and stout defending.
The Kuala Terengganu club and Selangor have 15 points each but the former are third on goal difference.
As for Selangor, the 33-time Malaysia Cup champions appear to have solved their issues with defending and they have not conceded a goal in three straight games in all competitions.
However, Selangor’s goals have dried up as Zainal Abidin Hassan’s side have not scored in the last two matches.
In contrast, T-Team have scored 13 goals in four matches and Selangor can expect a tough time containing their opponent’s talented attack led by Brazilian Patrick dos Santos.
Selangor midfielder Nazmi Faiz Mansor will be serving suspension following a red card in the 0-0 draw with PDRM on April 23 while winger R.Gopinathan is injured.
While Gopinathan’s absence will not affect Selangor as much, as they have options in Ahmad Hazwan Bakri and Andik Vermansyah, they could feel the heat without Nazmi.
Free-kick specialist Hafiz Kamal or S. Veenod could fill in for Nazmi while Saiful Riduwan Selamat is expected to retain his defensive midfield position.
Striker Norhakim Hassan has returned to fitness but T-Team may not risk him yet in matches. Apart from him, Rahmad’s side have no issues with injuries and suspensions.
Second-choice goalkeeper Ilham Amirullah Razali could be picked ahead of regular Wan Azraie Wan Teh after his decent debut in the 3-2 win over Penang April 24.
T-Team are spoilt for choice in attack as Patrick dos Santos, who has netted three goals so far, along with strikers Asrol Awang, Izzaq Faris Ramli and Ahmad Takhiyuddin Roslan have hit form.
Key battle: Shahrom Kalam (Selangor) v Makan Konate (T-Team)
Selangor captain Shahrom Kalam is a natural leader and he organises his defence well.
He enjoys a good understanding with Australian Robert Cornthwaite in the heart of defence along with wing-backs Razman Roslan and Raimi Mohd Nor.
Shahrom is a solid defender but he and the other defenders will be severely tested by T-Team’s forwards.
Midfielder Konate not only scores goals but he has the ability to open up play and create chances. The Malian is T-Team’s leading scorer with five goals.
The telepathic understanding between Konate and Dos Santos is the reason behind T-Team’s resurgence in the league and Selangor must find a solution to stop the midfielder from dictating the midfield.
Fact and Figures
- Patrick Wleh, the joint top scorer in the Malaysian Super League with seven goals, has not netted since the 3-1 defeat to Felda United in Jengka on April 4.
- Selangor have won 14 of 20 encounters against T-Team since 2009 and their biggest win was 5-0 recorded in a league match in June, 2012.
- T-Team have won only four times against Selangor and ironically, the victories were all recorded in 2011 in the Malaysian Super League and Malaysia Cup.
Selangor 0 T-Team 2. While T-Team have hit form, Selangor are still looking for answers to their erratic game. The confident T-Team attack will prevail.