Nov 09, 2021 - FAS
The final scoreline of the Red Giants' 3-1 home defeat to Terengganu FC on Sunday, in their matchday five Malaysia Cup encounter, may have suggested a slightly one-sided affair. However, those who watched the match from start to finish should have seen the improvements produced by Karsten Neitzel's charges against an outfit that has proven to be their bogey team this season.
Let us recap the key points from the Selangor FC-Terengganu FC group encounter, a match that sealed our place in the quarter-finals as Group B runner-up.
George Attram's debut
21-year old reserve team striker George Attram was handed his first team debut against the Turtles, appearing in the starting line-up. He became the ninth reserve team player to appear for the first team in this season alone.
The Ghanian forward who has scored seven goals in the Premier League this season tried his best against a stern opposition, but in the end had to make way for Shahrel Fikri at the start of the second half.
It was a commendable effort by George in what was just his first team debut, and we believe that he will only improve in the coming matches, after this baptism of fire.
Shahrel's instant impact, long-term potential
One man whose leadership from the front injected a lot of optimism into the team was Shahrel, whose second-half introduction helped the home team push back against the visitors.
From the get-go he made himself a threat to the opposition's defence, producing a stinging shot that was only denied by an equally-impressive save by the Terengganu goalkeeper. From then on Selangor regained their confidence, and helped by a change in tactics by utilising high-pressing, they were back in the game and did not let the opponent control the tempo.
Although Eky's 83rd-minute goal was eventually not enough to help the Red Giants salvage the match, his display against Terengganu should convince everyone that when the going gets tough in the coming knockout stages, there is someone who can propel the team to turn things around with his sheer hunger and deadliness.
A game of two halves
Apart from Shahrel's starring role, what also helped Selangor show improvements in the second half was the high-pressing utilised by the team right after the break.
The formidable engine of the opponent no longer had a lot of space in the middle of the park when Selangor midfielders rushed towards the opposing man with the ball, with central midfielder Safuwan Baharudin seen pushing up in assistance often. This change in tactics helped swing the momentum in the host's favour, thanks also to the threat offered by Shahrel on-target attempts.
Look out for similar tactics to be employed more often by the team in the tougher knockout stage, as the team's high-pressing helped keep the opponent out of the danger area, while at the same time forcing the defence into committing errors.
By Zulhilmi Zainal