‘Selangor always in my heart’, says Durakovic after defeating former side

Mehmet Durakovic recorded his first win as Perak coach and it was a special occasion as it came against former employers Selangor, a place the Australian still refers as home. 

Having seen his new charges throw away leads in his first two Malaysia Super League (MSL) matches, Durakovic was delighted to have got a win under his belt after edging Selangor 1-0 at Selayang Stadium on Saturday.

Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak’s spot-kick after Selangor defender Ugo Ukah received his marching orders in the second half shifted the tie in the visitors favour, but as pleased as Durakovic was, his celebration was low key.

Durakovic raised his hands and clinched his fist in joy but he never left his seat.

He was greeted with cheers from the home crowd – many of whom consider the Australian a club legend – when he circled the ground to acknowledge the fans after the match ended.

I hold no grudges. Sacking is part of football and it was unfortunate that my stint at Selangor came to an end under those terms.

- Perak coach Durakovic

“It was a special moment … I had mixed feelings to be honest. It was nice to get the first win but everyone knows what Selangor are to me,” said Durakovic.

Durakovic is among the names etched in Selangor’s history after he captained the side during their dominant mid-1990s, where they won three Malaysia Cup trophies in a row.

He return to Selangor as coach in 2014 and guided them to a record 33rd Malaysia Cup, ending a decade-long wait. Selangor also finished runners-up to Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) twice but he was still sacked despite having year left on his contract.

Durakovic expressed his desire to stay at club and would have probably signed a lifetime contract, but even pleas by fans and players fell on deaf ears as Selangor appointed Zainal Abidin Hassan.

“I hold no grudges. Sacking is part of football and it was unfortunate that my stint at Selangor came to an end under those terms,” Durakovic said.

“Selangor are my team and will always remain in my heart … everyone know that, but I’m Perak coach now and want to build a winning team here.

“We’ve got a good squad but there are things to improve. We’ll fix that in coming weeks. It’s only been about 10 days with Perak and I am getting to know the players.” Perak host MSL leaders Kedah in the FA Cup third round on March 11. Durakovic knows he is facing an uphill battle against the most in-form team.

“A tough match definitely. Kedah are good and have been together for three-four years now. They have a good coach in Tan Cheng Hoe, who is also a good friend,” he said.