SWEET FOR MANIAM BITTER FOR TAN
Selangor happy with a point, Kedah upset with controversial penalty
IT might have felt like a win for Selangor coach P. Maniam but Wednesday’s 1-1 Super League draw with Kedah in Selayang only left a bitter aftertaste for his counterpart Tan Cheng Hoe.
The clash was the first this season between last year’s two Malaysia Cup finalists with Kedah feeling hard done by this team after Selangor scored a controversial equaliser to rescue a point.
Kedah, who edged the 2016 Malaysia Cup final on penalties after a 1-1 draw, were headed back to the summit of the Super League after Sandro Mendonca came off the bench to score a sublime free-kick with nine minutes remaining.
But midfielder Akram Mahinan needlessly conceded a penalty deep into stoppage-time and though goalkeeper Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim stopped Victor Astafei’s spot-kick, Juliano Mineiro was on hand to score from the rebound.
Television replays, however, showed Mineiro had advanced a metre into the penalty box even before Astafei had taken the spot kick, much to the annoyance of the Kedah players.
While not wanting to criticise the referee, Cheng Hoe said he accepted the point which extended Kedah’s unbeaten run to 19 matches since August though they now trail Pahang by a point.
“We dominated the game and played well but you know the quality and fighting spirit of Selangor made us lose focus in the end and they got a penalty,” said Cheng Hoe.
“Two or three key players didn’t perform at the top level and it resulted in us not winning.
“It is a point I have to accept because one mistake led to one goal.”
For Selangor, the point kept them in third place and three points behind Kedah even though they were without striker Francis Doe.
“We were down 1-0 and Kedah were controlling the game but our target was not to concede,” Maniam told TV9.
“Our boys played well and when we were down 1-0, we made a decision to put in attacking player (Nurshamil Ghani) and we got a penalty.
“This point is a reward for the players, management and supporters and it felt like a win.”
Kedah were without injured pair Baddrol Bahtiar and Ahmad Fakri Saarani while Mendonca started from the bench on his return from injury.
The visitors carved out several chances but needed Brazilian Mendonca, a 60th-minute replacement for Amirul Hisham Awang Kechik, to produce a trademark free-kick which went in off the post.
But Selangor’s late equaliser now leaves Kedah having to beat Malacca in Alor Star tomorrow and hope Pahang drop points when they visit Larkin to take on champions Darul Ta’zim today to regain pole position.
PIC BY OSMAN ADNAN Kedah’s Khairul Helmi (left) tussles with Selangor’s Victor Astafei during their Super League match on Wednesday.