Red Giants Preparing For Tough Knockout Stage

While slow but steady sometimes wins the race, in football what is usually wise is finishing the job as quickly as possible. This is what Selangor FC efficiently did in their most recent Group B TM Malaysia Cup match last Wednesday, away to Kuching City FC.

A 2-1 win against the Premier League side thanks to a late, late winner by Nik Sharif Haseefy, as well as the defeat of Perak FC by Terengganu FC in the other Group B clash on the night, saw Selangor and Terengganu both book their quarter-final spots with two games in hand.

Now with the job done, Karsten Neitzel and his charges can look forward to their next bonus challenge; squaring off against the formidable Group B leaders, Terengganu at the MBPJ Stadium this Sunday, November 7.

The most direct reward offered by a win against the Turtles would be the possibility of pipping them to the top spot, as the one-time champion is now on 12 points, whereas Selangor is on nine.

But more than simply winning on Sunday in order to help secure a more favourable quarter-final spot, a victory would go far in boosting the squad's confidence before they navigate the tricky knockout phase. After all, following Wednesday's win, the boss opined that anyone they face in the quarter-finals would be a tough opponent, regardless of the eventual match-up.

And who else is more suitable to prepare the Red Giants than the same opponent that has well and truly bested us this season? It is a record that the fans may not be too eager to recall, but all three encounters between the two sides so far this season; two in the Super League and one in the cup, have been won by the Turtles. A victory on Sunday will go far in proving, perhaps even to the players themselves, that the team does have what it takes to go far in the competition, playing against much stronger opponents.

Rest assured, when the Red Giants arrive at the MBPJ Stadium this Sunday, it will be with the objective of bagging all the three points. Here it is in Neitzel's own words:

"Of course we will go for three points despite knowing just how tough the opponent is, and the injuries we have. I will definitely field the more senior players if they’re fit and able to play, but for now I'm just glad that I can rely on the services of the youngsters again."

The match on Wednesday saw the return to action of Syahmi Safari from his recent injury, but long-term absentees such as Tim Heubach, Brendan Gan, Halim Saari, Manuel Konrad and R. Dinesh, as well as recent injury doubts Wan Zack Haikal, Oliver Buff and Ifedayo Olusegun are expected to be sidelined against Terengganu.

Also unavailable are young guns Mukhairi Ajmal, Harith Haiqal, Zikri Khalili and Sikh Izhan, who after helping Malaysia U-23 qualify for the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup finals last week, are currently undergoing their seven-day quarantine after returning from Mongolia.

The boss too is hoping to see a lot more of the Red Giants faithful at MBPJ this weekend, as tickets are still available. They can be purchased here.

"In the previous home game, it was a very good match with the support of our fans chanting for the players. The fans bring out 10 percent more of the players."

By Zulhilmi Zainal