Delays, Goals, Penalties, A Sending-off, Extreme Passion, Plenty of Drama in The Klang Valley Derby

City Boys Held 3-3 By 12(?) Men to Kick-Off Super League Campaign

It is never easy opening the league campaign against your fiercest rivals, more so when it is the local derby that guarantees bragging rights apart from points at stake. 


The Klang Valley derby, which has regained plenty of its lost lustre in recent seasons, is no different and Friday night’s clash at home against Selangor on a heavy pitch, produced goals, penalties, a sending-off, some extreme passion in the stands and outside, but there was only one person keen to be the star of the show: the man in black; as the City Boys twice fought from behind, but were held 3-3 by their fortunate opponents who had all the major decisions in this Super League opener going their way.


Coach Bojan Hodak’s side has had the upper hand against Selangor, winning in both legs during the quarter-finals of last season’s march to the Malaysia Cup crown, and drawing 1-1 two times in the league.  In the pre-season of the inaugural Piala Menteri Wilayah in 2021, we edged them on penalties following a scoreless 90 minutes.  Selangor’s last victory over us, in fact, only came in an away fixture in 2019, a year in which they did the double over us.  Confidence was high indeed with this hallowed ground of the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium a fortress of its own, and the Red & White keen to bury the memories of the loss to Johor DT in the Charity Cup last week.


Our 50-year old tactician made two changes to the line-up vs Johor DT, introducing Irfan and M. Hadin in place of Declan and J. Partiban.  The back four consisted of Kenny and Gallifuoco in the centre, with Irfan and Kamal Azizi flanking them on the left and right respectively, in front of Mendoza in goal.  Captain Paulo Josue, Akram and Ryan were in midfield, while Zhafri and M. Hadin accompanied Koubemba at the top. 


The match, delayed for 40 minutes, allowing for pitch conditions to improve after the heavy and lengthy downpour, was only 4 minutes old when we had our first look at goal.  Zhafri on the right plays back to Akram, whose forward pass is met by Paolo Josue 20 metres outside of the box. He takes a touch and turns to fire from distance.  It should have been a routine save for Selangor’s Khairulazhan Khalid, but he gathered it the second time, with Koubemba lurking closely.  


Unexpectedly, the Away side who were in their Green kit today, took the lead in the 18th minute, off a stroke of luck.  Jordanian Baha Abdelrahman whips in a dipping freekick into the box from the middle of our half down the left.  Hyuri Henrique’s unchallenged header was watched by our No. 1, only for Irfan’s thigh to get in the way and deflect it into the goal.


Stung by the opener, the city slickers quickly got back into the game two minutes later.  Picking up a pass from our left by Irfan, Zhafri moving infield, skips past one challenge, and lets fly a shot from 25 metres that skimmed off the wet surface into the inside of the left post, fooling Khairulazhan. The former Selangor youth product races to the corner flag throw himself to the ground then rises, pumping his fist into the air, celebrating his goal, much to the anger of Red & Yellow fans seated there. 


Soon after, the man in black decided it was time for him to get into the spotlight.  Selangor’s Daniel Asri, plays a wonderful pass from the middle down the left, springing the City Boys’ offside trap, finding the run of Herlison Caion bearing down on Mendoza’s goal.  Kenny, surprised by the burst of the Brazilian’s pace, recovered to make a last-ditch tackle in the box, but much to our horror, the referee blew his whistle for a penalty.  Caion himself, stepped up to convert, powering his spot-kick passed Mendoza who guessed right, sending the Selangor faithful into raptures as they regained the initiative.


If Selangor did not know then, they surely knew now.  Our team, we are made of sterner stuff.  Selangor’s lead only lasted 5 minutes, before it was all square again.  It was a goal made in the training ground, involving Kamal Azizi, his captain, Ryan and ending with M. Hadin.  From the right, Kamal Azizi far into an advanced position near the opponent’s box relays to Paulo Josue. The Brazilian flicks it to Ryan in turn, then runs deep to the byline in the box to collect the latter’s one-two pass.  Spotting the onrushing M. Hadin taking advantage of all the space at the back post with Selangor’s defence all glued to Koubemba, he measures a superb chipping cross that meets the No.27’s power header. The City Boys’ bench erupted in delight, their hard work paid off with that goal! 


4 minutes from time, we wasted a great chance to go ahead in the match.  From the middle of Selangor’s half on the right, Paulo Josue flighted a freekick into the box. Kenny, escaping his marker, was unchallenged but his header merely missed the target.   


It was even-stevens at the break, with much to fight for.  Kuala Lumpur City 2 Selangor 2.


There was not much between the two rivals in the opening exchanges of the second period, however, right on the hour mark, the City Boys deservedly seized the lead for the first time in this match, through Ryan.  He began the move in the middle of Selangor’s half, with a simple tap to Zhafri on his right.  The No. 8 feints a shot, releases it to Paulo Josue on the right and immediately charges into the danger area to connect with the skippers’ inviting cross.  He misses completely, Selangor thought they had snuffed out our chance with Shahrul Nazeem’s clearance, but it fell to Ryan, striking with aplomb from the top of the box.  The victory was in our grasp! “Vamos!!!”, goalkeeper coach Almeida exclaimed! 


But then, came act two from the man in black.  Now chasing the game, expectedly, Selangor upped the tempo in the search of the equaliser, and from a counter-attack on the right in the 72nd minute, their captain Safuwan Baharudin went sprawling down to the floor off a shoulder to shoulder contact with Gallifuoco.  Unbelievably and to our disgust, the referee pulled out a yellow card, giving the marching orders to the Australian, for his second bookable offence in the game.  His first ever sending-off in the Malaysian League.  It surely seemed like Safuwan made a real meal out of it. We were down to 10-men.  Bojan was forced to sacrifice Zhafri, introducing Declan in place, as we sought to ride this out and hang on for the win.


Selangor took full advantage as we struggled to reorganise our backline with the loss of Gallifuoco, but not before act three from the man in black.  In the 76th minute, Singaporean Safuwan played Caion on the right, at the edge of the box.  The Brazillian intelligently backheeled to Syahir Bashah who took a touch, then smashed it with all his might into the sliding block of Irfan.  The referee, without a shadow of a doubt, was quick to break the hearts of the City Boys fans for the third time tonight, signalled for a penalty.  A second for Selangor tonight.  How fortunate.  Replays showed that indeed the ball struck Irfan’s hand, but with his body in such a motion, one wonders where could he have tucked it? Caion once more seized responsibility, sending Mendoza the wrong way this time, again steering his shot to our keeper’s right, but the Filipino-Dane dived to the left.   


Selangor was keen to press for the winner considering their numerical advantage and they almost stole the game at the death, a minute into injury time, if not for some heroics by Mendoza.  Mukhairi Ajmal, from the middle of his half on the right, guides a long ball into the path of Caion whose pace yet again troubles our defence. The 31-year-old sprints towards goal use his upper body strength to shrug off Kenny’s challenge, but Mendoza brilliantly saves his low shot in the 1v1 situation.  The ball goes high in the air, and the Philippines’ national goalie immediately punches to prevent Abdul Rahman Daud’s header, but it falls loose to Syahir, who bundles it wide.           


3 points were squandered due to the generosity of the man in black. Had it been another day or some other man in black, we could be celebrating yet another famous win over our neighbours.  We scored 3 goals from open play, but some work needs to be done at the back, as this is the second game in a row we have conceded three goals, following last week’s loss in the Charity Cup.  Here’s to a Top 5 finish this season!    


Kuala Lumpur City vs Selangor: 1 Mendoza (GK), 4 Kamal Azizi, 17 Irfan, 9 Gallifuoco, 21 Kenny, 6 Ryan, 14 Akram, 28 Paulo Josue (C), 8 Zhafri (75’ 12 Declan), 11 Koubemba, 27 M. Hadin (62’ 16 J. Partiban)

Subs Not Used: 44 Azri G (GK), 10 Safee, 22 Nik Umar, 25 Anwar, 33 Muhammad, 37 Haqimi, 66 Nabil  


Referees : Fitri Maskom; Assitants : Yusri Mohamad, Shafiq Salj; Fourth Official : Nasruddin Tamrin 


Attendance: 2,517





He told The Voice of City Boys: 


“I was happy to be involved with our goals and created a few opportunities but not so satisfied with the other aspects of my game. I felt like I was still not 100% match fit!” 



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For Season Ticket Holders (B2 City Boys), enjoy access to Away tickets (Contact Shamim for details)    



Prepared by The Voice of The City Boys

Statistics credited to Devinder Singh