Selangor vs Felda talking points: Gulf in class too big
Lacking an atmosphere
On paper, an interesting match was on the cards. Third-placed Selangor host MSL title chasers Felda United and this was most probably the Red Giant’s best chance of bridging the gap with the top two, who both now have a double-digit point advantage with seven games to spare.
Those in attendance at Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday will agree the atmosphere looked far from what it should have been as barely 5,000 fans were there backing Zainal Abidin Hassan’s side. Even Ultras Selangor saw their numbers reduced and their chants were drown out by their Felda counterparts.
Reasons were plenty. There were some who vented their frustration at the team’s style of play but several also claimed the fact that the match was held on a weekday and shown live made it more convenient to sit in the comfort of their homes.
While there is no denying Selangor have provided lacklustre displays in recent months, the latter two reasons are worrying. There will not be enough match days if games are only played on weekends, and imagine if all six matches were shown live?
It doesn’t help that Football Association of Selangor (FAS) office bearers are not setting an example by turning out in numbers to show their support to the team.
Nazmi on the flanks
There are versatile players but there are also those who can’t play anywhere but their favourite position.
If ever Nazmi Faiz Mansor needed a game to see why he is not suited on the flanks, this was the match. The absence of R. Gopinathan and Andik Vermansyah saw Zainal turn to Nazmi to provide width, but the youngster drifted to the centre on most occasions, thus leaving the Red Giants without penetrating runs on the wings.
Nazmi is best when in the centre of the pitch, where he has an eye for defence splitting passes.
Though he lacks the physical advantage, Nazmi has added some defensive qualities to his game, evident in his performance during Selangor’s Malaysia Cup success last year.
Perhaps it should have been Hafiz Kamal, a passenger for most parts of the game, who was moved out of the engine room instead of Nazmi.
Visionless on and off the pitch
Selangor need ideas and at the moment, even Zainal appears to be lacking in that department.
The crock list has been unfair to Zainal with constant absentees leaving him short of options, but it does not help that underperforming players are not taken off quickly enough.
It was a brave move to replace Patrick Wleh with Azmi Muslim in the 73rd minute – their first of the night – but what took Selangor so long to initiate a change?
It was plain for all to see that Wleh, Mauro Olivi, Hafiz and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri were unable to carve open a Felda defence led by 36-year-old veteran Shukor Adan.
Even Selangor’s goal came from a stroke of luck after Felda custodian Farizal Harun allowed a routine catch to slip through his legs.
The Fighters are living up to their nickname. The tired legs are obvious as Felda appear to have lost some energy in their play, but hearts are vowing to carry on.
Two-goal hero Francis Forkey Doe was not given the chance to seek a hat-trick against his former club but had zero qualms about that, saying: “I’m tired … we have been playing so many games and being ready for the next game is more important than getting a hat-trick. I don’t mind being taken off at all.”
Felda do not enjoy a squad as large as the one Mario Gomez has at his disposal at title rivals Johor Darul Ta’zim, and Irfan has repeatedly stressed that recovery and proper match preparation are key.