A fifth defeat in 10 Super League matches this season has already equalled the number of losses suffered in the whole of last year’s campaign and Kuala Lumpur City head coach Bojan Hodak could not stress enough the need to put chances away.
Terengganu punished the City Boys for their profligacy with two goals in the last 15 minutes through Habib Haroon and Manuel Ott which gave the Turtles a 2-0 win at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.
The goals arrived as Kuala Lumpur were holding their own and keeping Terengganu’s dangerous trio of Tchetche Kipre, Kpah Sherman and Faisal Halim at bay but also after Hadin Azman spurned a gilt-edged opportunity when played through by Zhafri Yahya in the 60th minute.
“Hadin’s half-chance miss was the turning point, he was basically in a one-on-one situation,” said Hodak, who ranks Terengganu as one of the best teams in Malaysia after Johor Darul Ta’zim.
“The problem was not the defence which was doing quite well. The problem was we were not holding the ball enough in attack, we were not sharp enough. After 60 minutes, they start to pressure us and when you don’t have enough players to roll over the subs then they punish you.
“We had some chances, especially with the Hadin counter-attack, it was a very clear chance. When you play a team like Terengganu, they won’t give you a lot of chances so this is where we need to score goals. Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Hodak’s options off the bench were limited due to the absence through injury of Romel Morales, J. Partiban and Kenny Pallraj but the coach was satisfied with the way things were going for the best part of an hour although it required goalkeeper Kevin Mendoza to be on his toes.
“First half was okay, for 60-70 minutes it was okay but then in the last 20-25 minutes you see the quality of Terengganu,” he said. “We managed to stop Sherman and Kipre and Faisal, their most dangerous players, but then we conceded two goals from our mistakes, from players we didn’t expect to score. We were late, we gave them too much space and they will punish you.”
Hodak hopes to have the injured trio back when Kuala Lumpur play Indonesia’s PSM Makassar to open the AFC Cup Asean zone group stage match at Cheras on Friday before meeting Tampines Rovers of Singapore on June 30.
“We have a very small squad and when we have one or two players injured immediately we have a problem. So for us today we didn’t have Romel, Kenny and Partiban, it was a lot for us and immediately it was a problem,” said Hodak.
“Partiban and Romel have small injuries and I hope they will recover before the next game and Kenny can play which will give us more options to rotate. This is what we are lacking, we have a very small squad. When you have a small budget you cannot have too many good players. We have quite a few young players as well.”
Commenting on the City Boys’ ambitions for the AFC Cup, Hodak said the first target for the Malaysia Cup champions is to clear the group stage.
“We want to go through. I think the group is quite equal,” said Hodak, who counts PSM as one of his former clubs. “Our advantage is we are playing at home. The advantage for PSM and Tampines is that they play in the AFC Cup every year and have the experience that we don’t have. But we are playing at home and will try to surprise them.”
To read the match report of Terengganu vs KL City on 18/6/2022 (Super League), please click https://kualalumpurfootball.com/2022/06/19/brave-kuala-lumpur-resistance-pushes-terengganu-all-the-way/
To watch the highlights of this match, please click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20TjtHcAHZI
To watch the complete Terengganu vs KL City match on 18/6/2022 (Super League), please click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1JJEwVK4-E