Match Preview Super League vs Sarawak United
After the failure of Mission Aidilfitri Part 1 following the loss at home to S Pahang ten days ago, the City Boys redeemed ourselves with a 3-2 win against Penang in Part 2 a week back in Cheras. The final part of this trilogy in meets with sides that were at the basement of the Super League at the start of May, in conjunction with the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations throughout the Muslim month of Syawal, presents a real opportunity for us to grab our first away points in the league following two defeats in two road trips to Kedah DA and Negeri Sembilan. Bojan & Co. will be eager to notch another win after the Penang result, hoping to mirror similar back to back victories as done when we won against Melaka Utd and Sabah that quickly followed earlier losses to Kedah DA and Johor DT, and now the recent reverses to Negeri Sembilan and S Pahang, require a similar response. Here’s to Mission Aidilfitri Part 3!
This season’s promoted side are in a struggle to recapture the form that saw them finish last year’s Premier League as runner-up and Malaysia Cup quarter-finalist. Currently in tenth position, they have only picked up 7 points from 8 matches. Their home form has been a real disappointment, only a draw to show, with 4 losses against Kedah DA, Sabah, Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan. However, across the South China Sea, it has been a different story, managing wins over Petaling Jaya C and S Pahang, though they were thrashed by Johor DT in their first road trip. Conceding 15 goals in the league so far (10 from open play and 5 from deadball situations including 2 penalties) their defence suffers the ignominy of being the joint second worst, the same as Kuala Lumpur City’s, after Kedah DA’s 17 goals, though not counting the result at Johor DT, it would have been a respectable 9 goals from 7 matches. Offensively, it is as grim, with only 7 goals scored (3 from open play and 4 from deadball situations including 2 penalties), once again joint second worst in the league with Melaka Utd., though the latter have played 2 matches less. The saying is statistics do not lie, and the Sarawakians are the proof of the pudding. Head coach B. Satiananthan inherited this squad from E. Elavarasan, who left just before the season began despite leading them to promotion, for a role with the national team as Kim Pang Gon’s assistant. Although suffering from a lack of bite upfront this year, they do have players who can pose problems, such as Nigerian forward Uche Agba, who scored 24 goals in 34 appearances last year, former city slicker, Togolese striker Francis Kone, who joined from Negeri Sembilan, a muscular presence in the box that always wins them the first or second balls; Cambodian midfielder Boris Kok, on a season long loan from Phnom Penh Crown, who has contributed 3 of their goals this year by often causing problems in the six-yard box; South Korean winger, Lee Chang Hoon, with a good eye for range, into his second season in Borneo and speedy flanker Kuching born Nur Shamie Iszuan. They also brought in Argentine Gonzalo Soto, to beef up a backline, which was the meanest in the Premier League last season, in front of the reliable ex-national custodian Sharbinee Allwaee. Further additions at the close season included from Peninsular based defenders, Ahmad Tasnim Fitri and L. Kalaiharasan, formerly of Police, and midfielder Ahmad Khairil Anuar from Petaling Jaya C. Satiananthan knows that he has his work cut out for him as the Sarawakians seek survival and stability in their first season in the top division, but he will be encouraged by what he saw at the tail end of the season in 2021, where they qualified from a group that included the City Boys, Penang and S Pahang, during the Malaysia Cup, and gave a reasonable account of their abilities when Terengganu knocked them out at the last eight. Not making their quest this season any easier, a packed fixture list and punishing travel arrangements, since the league resumed after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, has presented plenty of challenges. Tonight’s game, is Sarawak Utd.’s fourth in 11 days, which included 2 away trips to Kuantan (vs S Pahang) and Johor Bahru (vs Johor DT in the FA Cup 2nd Round). The citizens of Sarawak have long been starved of success since the heady days of English coach Alan Vest with the now defunct Sarawak FA team, and the Golden Hornbills who had their roots in 2016 as the Malaysian Malays in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Cup competition, are hoping to be embraced by the locals with similar fervent support. Then they were in the third level of the national football pyramid, before being rebranded a year later to Selangor Malays, after that as Selangor United in 2018, a change that propelled them to the Premier League for the next two seasons, before the migration to East Malaysia, and with that their fourth brand identity.
Bojan has a full squad at his disposal, except Azri G., who is still with the national Under-23’s at the South East Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam, after they successfully qualified for the semi-finals on Thursday, 26/5/2022 against the host and defending champions. If the City Boys’ are clinical in front of goal, keeping wastage to the minimal, much can be expected from this trip, even though we have yet to get the ball rolling on the road this season.
Tuesday’s clash will be the 6th time both teams meet each other since the Golden Hornbill’s began life at national level competitions in 2016. The City Boys have emerged victorious in 3 of their past 5 meetings, with the Borneons only win coming in the 2019 Challenge Cup, where they won 1-0 at the Selayang Stadium in their previous incarnation as Selangor United. In 2021, we faced them twice during the group stages of the Malaysia Cup, thrashing them 4-0 in Cheras, with a double strike early in the game from Romel, and further goals coming midway through the second period through Partiban and Ryan. In the return encounter, four days after that emphatic victory, the Sarawakians held the city slickers to a 2-2 draw in UiTM Shah Alam (their home ground then). Romel once again got a brace, equalising twice to cancel out goals by Nigerian Uche Agba. The Red & White last tasted victory in Kuching in the shortened season of 2020 (due to the Movement Control Order), Azim Rahim’s strikes on either side of Amri Yahyah’s equaliser, provided the win in the Premier League encounter.
Izreen who is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his knee remains the only player in the City Boys treatment room, while Azri G. is away with the national Under-23 team for the 31st SEA Games, at least until the end of the semi-final stage on May 19, 2022.
The Super League Match Day 9 fixture between Sarawak Utd. and Kuala Lumpur City is on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 8.15 pm (2015hrs), at the Sarawak State Stadium, Petra Jaya, Kuching.
Tickets for the Super League match against Pahang are available at the following link, https://www.tickethotline.com.my/
For Season Ticket Holders (B2 City Boys), enjoy direct access for purchase through the Club without the hassle and limitations of the online system (Contact Shamim for details).