AFC Cup Talking Points: Were Selangor let off?
Was it a red card?
Hafiz Kamal’s sending off caught everyone by surprise. Selangor coach Zainal Abidin Hassan was perplexed by the decision, saying: “I couldn’t see any offence. I have to look closely at the replays, but it looked like Hafiz was just scrambling to get ball.”
Even television commentators seated next to the media tribune were lost for words as the Selangor midfielder appeared to have only nudged Jamal Bhuyan out of his way in order to quickly line-up a free-kick in the 57th minute.
READ ALSO: Selangor vs Sheikh Jamal match report
Hafiz looked stunned by Japanese referee Masaaki Toma’s decision and stood by the field wondering what he had done wrong to earn a straight red.
There were little arguments, however, when Yeasin Khan received his second yellow for bringing down Andik Vermansyah as the Indonesian winger was about to break free of the defence 12 minutes later.
Will the lack of a midfield general be Selangor’s undoing?
Nazmi Faiz Mansor and Hafiz Kamal are fine midfielders and could walk into most Malaysian Super League (MSL) sides’ starting eleven. While they are highly rated by coaches across the country, the duo are not midfield generals in the mould of Roy Keane or Claude Makelele.
Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) have Hariss Harun, Felda United have Lutfulla Turaev, Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik is blossoming into a dominant figure at Kedah while Kelantan have Brendan Gan.
Selangor, on the other hand, have not replaced Brazilian Leandro dos Santos.
READ ALSO: Selangor’s forgotten Brazilians
The absence of a ball-winner in the engine room is proving crucial as Selangor are unable to dominate the centre of the park like JDT, Felda and Kedah can.
If Selangor are finding it tough to stop opponents such as Sheikh Jamal in their tracks, the back four will continue to be exposed to dangers. That Selangor have conceded 12 goals in their last five matches is a testimony of this.