Selangor 2 Pahang 0: Red Giants on course for Cup No.33
Selangor have been chasing an elusive 33rd Malaysia Cup ever since defeating Perlis in the 2005 final and 10 years later, the once-mighty Red Giants have a chance to stand on the winner’s platform again.
They have only played in one final since then but it ended on a losing note in a five-goal thriller against the very same opponents that stand in their way come December 12.
Kedah, who defeated Felda United 4-3 on aggregate in the other semi-final, also haven’t featured in a final since that 2008 win at Bukit Jalil Stadium.
This time around the final will be played at Selangor’s home in Shah Alam – the second biggest stadium in the country – because Bukit Jalil Stadium is closed for a makeover ahead of the 2017 SEA Games.
“It is a dream come true to reach the final and play at the Shah Alam Stadium. It’s a great stadium and we just want to go to the final and play good football. Kedah are a good side with fantastic imports. They’ve beaten a good side too, so it’s anyone’s trophy,” said Selangor coach Mehmet Durakovic.
“I am very proud of my players and happy the fans, some 50-60,000 of them, could go back happy after the semi-final … they saw the Selangor of old. Nobody gave us a chance and here we are.
“My players are young and not superstars … everyone knows this. But I will not swap my players for anyone. Everyone deserves a pat on the back for striving hard for each other to get results.”
There was little to separate Selangor and back-to-back champions Pahang on Sunday. The tie could have easily swung the other way had Selangor custodian Norazlan Razali not come to the rescue on several occasions once again, just as he did to help the club reach the final four.
Norazlan made three back-to-back saves in as many minutes to prevent an immediate Pahang comeback after Selangor had taken the lead.
First, he pushed away a free-kick targeted for Zesh Rehman in the 16th minute. Next, he tipped over the Pakistan international’s header before making a point blank save to deny Dickson Nwakaeme.
Pahang’s stand-in skipper Damion Stewart marshalled the Pahang back-line well, but the defence could do little with Guilherme de Paula’s 11th-minute goal and Nazmi Faiz Mansor’s long range effort in the 54th minute.
They would prove enough for a 2-0 aggregate victory.
Main photo: Selangor FC