Nov 18, 2021 - FAS
Act one of the TM Piala Malaysia 2021 quarter-final tie between Selangor FC and Kuala Lumpur City FC (KLC) last Sunday ended unfavourably for the Red Giants. A 2-0 defeat at home to their Klang Valley rivals has now required that Karsten Neitzel's charges mount a comeback in the final act this Thursday, against an opposition that has not been defeated in this year’s competition, at a venue that has been a fortress to them all season long.
As mentioned before, the two rivals have met 80 times previously with The City Boys seldom troubling the 33-time champions. However, they have been a side that is on the ascendancy this season, and their recent defeat of Neitzel's charges only proves their potential to go far in the competition.
This Thursday, at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium, in Cheras, the Red Giants have to prove that they can overturn the deficit by adhering to the boss' simple instruction; to believe in themselves.
"We will first observe possible injuries in order to field the best starting line-up. It's difficult now but nothing is impossible. It's important to believe. It's difficult but I will get the players to believe that it is possible, with certain changes made," said the German coach following the first leg.
The potential contained within the squad throughout the season is already known, even if it does not materialise as often as it should. On Thursday, in what is arguably Selangor FC's most crucial match of the season, our Red Giants will have to keep faith in their individual abilities and collective strengths in order to produce a mighty performance.
The boss is right in that his charges have the ability to spring a comeback; after all they have done it four times this season alone.
In April they fought back from going down twice to Melaka United to produce a 3-2 away win, and a month later Ifedayo Olusegun's magic produced two last-minute goals to help them defeat Petaling Jaya City 2-1. Later in August, they trailed Kedah DA for a short while before ending the match with a 4-2 road win. And most recently, in their last Group B match, they came back from conceding early against Perak FC to bag a 2-1 away win.
Neitzel will want to count on his best available players, but the absentees will include Safuwan Baharudin who recently played for the Singapore national team, as well as long-term unavailabilities Brendan Gan, Halim Saari, Manuel Konrad, and R. Dinesh.
Our boys have the quality to produce the result they want in the final act of the quarter-final tie, if they believe in themselves. And the fans too can help them keep the faith by being present in Cheras themselves.
By Zulhilmi Zainal