SWEET FOR MA­NIAM BIT­TER FOR TAN

Se­lan­gor happy with a point, Kedah up­set with con­tro­ver­sial penalty

New Straits Times - - Sport - RE­PORTS BY DEVIN­DER SINGH devin­der@nst.com.my

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.

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