Selangor suffered a third successive loss after losing 3-1 against Terengganu in the fifth match of the season at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu tonight.
Terengganu caretaker coach Mike Mulvey was delighted with the return of Canadian forward Issey Nakajima-Farran, who has been out with an injury since last month. Gustavo Lopez returned to the starting eleven after missing the match against Pahang last week. Selangor head coach Zainal Abidin fielded a strong line-up with the likes of Azril Nasrulhaq, Andik Vermansyah, Nazmi Faiz, Mauro Olivi and Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh. Norazlan Razali, who failed to receive a call up to the national team, started only from the bench.
The league leaders got things off to a good start after a brilliant skill and through ball from Mauro Olivi which set Patrick Ronaldinho up for a shot, but Cameroon international Vincent Bikana matched the Liberian’s strength and played the ball out for a goal kick.
A few minutes later, Mauro Olivi was clean through on goal after Patrick Ronaldinho’s header bounced over Vincent Bikana and Zubir Azmi, but the Argentinian forward only managed to hit the side netting after dribbling past Terengganu goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee.
The home side did not let big names of Selangor intimidate them as they responded with two successive attempts on goal from Ashari Samsudin and Sharin Sapien on the 7th minute, but the Selangor defenders, led by Shahrom Kalam, put their bodies on the line to defend them.
The Turtles came close to scoring again after Gustavo Lopez’s corner found Issey Nakajima, but his header was cleared off the line by Nazmi Faiz. On the 25th minute, Gustavo Lopez continued troubling The Red Giants’ defence after his cross set up Amirul Syahmi, who attempted a Robin van Persie-esque header which flew inches off Khairul Azhan’s goal.
Indonesian midfielder Andik Vermansyah made a brilliant run outside the box before striking with his left foot on the 34th minute but his effort just hit the side netting of the goal. Nazmi Faiz Mansor almost caught Sharbinee Allawee off guard with a first time volley from outside the box but the ex-Selangor goalkeeper confidently caught the ball with both hands.
The 2015 FA Cup semi-finalist almost drew first blood a few minutes from time but Ashari Samsudin’s effort was brilliantly saved by Khairul Azhan. The half looked like it was going to end in a draw, but Issey Nakajima-Farran popped out of nowhere before striking it venomously with his left foot on the first minute of injury time. The home crowd went wild as the Canadian international rejoiced with his teammates and head coach Mike Mulvey.
Zainal Abidin’s half-time teamtalk must have inspired the players to do better after his team instantly levelled the game one minute into the second half after a 30-yard attempt from R. Gopinathan. The ex-Pahang star saw Sharbinee off his line and decided to give it a go.
The tempo was completely reduced as both teams visibly seemed exhausted.
Issey Nakajima could have doubled his tally and regained the lead for his side after he was left unmarked in the penalty box but could not get his header on target on the 65th minute.
Five minutes later, R. Gopinathan took on three players before blasting the post.
Terengganu’s new signing Juan Jose Morales was introduced late in the game and he managed to score his first goal of the season on the 80th minute after Issey Nakajima’s shot was saved by Khairul Azhan and the Argentinian pounced on the rebound to regain the lead.
Issey Nakajima scored the third and final goal for Terengganu after he headed home a brilliant cross from substitute Joseph Kalang Tie on the 88th minute of the game.
The loss meant that Selangor moved down to second place in the Super League (MSL), allowing Johor Darul Ta’azim (JDT) the chance to extend their lead when they face PDRM.
Other posts by Prashant Kharbanda